Clippings by pbx2

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Has anybody ever flushed their tankless water heater?

posted by: cindywhitall on 09.29.2014 at 12:33 pm in Plumbing Forum

I have a Navien tankless that is 2 years old. Our water is probably a little on the hard side. My neighbor, who is a plumber, also has one of his own. He told me he had never flushed his (this was after owning it for 2-3 years I believe). I think it would be a good idea to do.

I'm not asking him to do it because he never lets us pay him and we aren't that close of friends. I will call him in a pinch but not for every little thing, plus he's never done his own!

I called the people who installed it. They want $215 to do it! Ouch!

It looks pretty straightforward. I just need to get a sump pump, hoses, bucket and vinegar.

Can I mess this up? For the $215 it is surely something I need to learn to do because I am NOT paying that every couple of years if I can do it.

So, has anybody done this. Any tips? Thanks.


clipped on: 10.02.2014 at 12:41 am    last updated on: 10.02.2014 at 12:41 am

RE: Ground Sleeve for Wood Posts? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: kudzu9 on 06.15.2014 at 02:16 am in Home Repair Forum

Make your own sleeves...I have, and it's cheap. Just get some ABS piping of approximately the right inside diameter, and cut to length: maybe 2 feet. A 2X4 has a diagonal of about 3.8" so it should fit into 4" ABS pipe with just a little slop. If you use a 3" ABS pipe with a 2X4 you would have to trim some of the base of the 2X4 so it can fit inside.

The best approach to setting the pipes into the ground is to fit them to the trellis posts, dig the holes, and set the whole thing -- trellis with bases inserted into the pipes -- into the holes and backfilling. That way you don't have to worry about positioning the pipes in exactly the right spots to receive the trellis...the trellis will make that happen.


clipped on: 06.18.2014 at 11:01 pm    last updated on: 06.18.2014 at 11:01 pm

Grout Sealer for Hard water & soap scum?

posted by: pbx2 on 05.27.2014 at 11:16 am in Bathrooms Forum

Sorry if this has been answered a million time but I am a little overwhelmed with the available info when it comes to sealing grout.

We have a silver Power Grout - which supposedly has a build in sealer - in the master shower: ceramic & porcelain tiles on the floor & walls.

We noticed that soap scum & hard water will soak into the grout & discolor it to either a orange or dark color - if we don't routinely clean it (like weekly vs. monthly).

We have found that Lysol bathroom cleaner spray will do a decent job of bringing back to life the grout colors if we don't clean for about a month.
Scrubbing Bubbles does nothing past 1 week - so we have begun using it weekly.

Will sealing the grout help with the soap scum/hard water issue - if we fail to lean the shower weekly?

What is a good sealer?


clipped on: 06.06.2014 at 03:55 pm    last updated on: 06.06.2014 at 03:55 pm

Do I need to seal my granite?

posted by: pbx2 on 05.27.2014 at 10:58 am in Kitchens Forum

Sorry if this has been answered a million time but I am a little overwhelmed with the available info: yes to seal & no to sealing.

We have White Arabesco granite throughout the house & are at 1 year since the installation.

We are careful with coasters & hot items & wipe spills quickly.

Do we need to seal this type of granite?
If yes - What is a good sealer?


clipped on: 05.29.2014 at 11:10 am    last updated on: 05.29.2014 at 11:10 am

RE: What cause grout lines color variation? (Follow-Up #11)

posted by: azmom on 02.16.2014 at 01:45 am in Bathrooms Forum

I use Finazzle Grout Cleaner for Color Grout and Finazzle Soap Scum Remover. I learned about the products from this forum, and purchased from local True Value Hardware store. The contractor suggested Tilex Soap Scum Remover. I think either product would work.

Snookums2, I wonder about the products used in the shower too. They are fancy designer line received as gift, not the plain ones we usually have. In our case,the color of the grout, its composition and hard water all contribute to the color variation.

Raehelen, I sealed Guest and Master bathrooms floor with 511 Impregnator Sealer. The shower floor will be the next.

DH said there is some degree of color variation in any grout work. It is true. He did not think shower looked bad even before I re-cleaned it. Guess it is the difference between regular people and the anal Garden Web type like me who examines every single detail so very closely. LOL!


clipped on: 05.27.2014 at 11:01 am    last updated on: 05.27.2014 at 11:01 am

Mopping Wood Floors - Newbie Help please?

posted by: pbx2 on 03.11.2014 at 01:32 pm in Cleaning Tips Forum

We have a 1 year old house that we dust every other day.

But we'd like to give it a good mopping.

Never have wash wood before - am a newbie to this stuff.

What are some good safe products to use on red-oak hardwood floors? matted finish.

I've done a search but there seems to be conflicting feedback from plain old soap & water to store bought stuff to only for the trades chemicals.

Appreciate the help.


clipped on: 03.11.2014 at 01:32 pm    last updated on: 03.11.2014 at 01:32 pm

Anyway to stop floors from creaking?

posted by: pbx2 on 03.11.2014 at 01:22 pm in Flooring Forum

We're approaching the 1 year anniversary of our newly built house & the hardwood floors are creaking all over the place.

The builder was careful to tell us that he used screws & glue fasten the subfloor.

& we have no doubt that the subfloor is not creaking.

So it must be the red oak hardwood floors on top of the subfloor.

Anyway to stop them from creaking every where we walk on?


clipped on: 03.11.2014 at 01:22 pm    last updated on: 03.11.2014 at 01:22 pm

Honeywell Backup Generator Question

posted by: pbx2 on 02.26.2014 at 01:46 pm in Electrical Wiring Forum

My Costco has this generator on sale right now & I wanted to get your opinions on if it will fit my needs:

Honeywell Backup Generator

Need for 2 occupants in 3k Sq. ft house - 95% electric except gas stove & gas fireplace - (Sub freezing temps possible):
1) Heat Pump+Air Handler
2) Tankless Water heater (need to keep unfrozen)
3) Microwave (240v) or Toaster Oven
4) Refrigerator
5) A least 1 TV
6) Few to all Lights
7) Computer+Router Modem

Is the 17KW enough to handle this load requirement?
Is the 17KW more suitable for a limited amount of circuits like above vs. whole house backup?
I'm budgeting $3500 for the Unit & 2500 for gas & electric retrofit.
Current location of HVAC outdoor unit, Tankless + kitchen are all on same side of house.

Appreciate any feedback.

Here is a link that might be useful: Honeywell Backup


clipped on: 02.27.2014 at 03:22 pm    last updated on: 02.27.2014 at 03:22 pm

Window Problems - COLD!

posted by: pmsmith2032 on 09.26.2013 at 10:32 am in Windows Forum

I am hoping someone might be able to provide me with some help on how to help with drafty windows. The windows in question are single hung Crestline windows (white vinyl on the inside and outside) installed by our builder about seven years ago when we had our house built. Our house has 2x6 walls , vinyl siding and did have a house wrap if that matters at all. The builder has since gone bankrupt so I can no longer contact them. We did contact Crestline directly a number of years ago and they sent out a service rep who said it was a framing issue and did do some caulking around the inside of the frames.
I expressed to the builder at the time that I did not want these windows but they stated this is the only windows they offered. Anyway, now we are stuck with bad windows. On cold days during winter, a noticable breeze can be felt coming in around all windows (in some places the breeze is strong enough to extinguish a lighter).
Unfortunately we can't afford new windows at this time. However, I would like to do whatever possible on a very limitied budget to improve their efficiency. Any tips/advice/suggestions will be greatly appreciated!


clipped on: 02.14.2014 at 02:44 pm    last updated on: 02.14.2014 at 02:44 pm

RE: Need expert guidance for a new HVAC system (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: energy_rater_la on 09.24.2013 at 11:14 am in Heating & Air Conditioning Forum

while I'm not the hvac expert that tigerdunes is,
there are a couple of things that stand out to me. is giving you excellent info.

why in atlanta do you need a humidifier?
I would think a dehumidifier would be the

you write:
"- This is the only contractor who did the load calculation. Based on that the required load is 44K BTU or 3.7 tons system based on the condition of my house. I was told that a 3 tons system would be enough if the insulation at the attic got improved to R30 or R38. He did the design calculation based on standard design temperature cooling 75/105(indoor/outdoor), heating 70/27degrees. By the way we keep our thermostat 73 degree for heating and 80 degree for cooling."

105 as an outdoor temp is not really ideal design temp.
it rarely gets that hot for an extended time. we should design for what temps are 90% of the time & not 10%
of the time.

adding an additional R-11 to your attic lowers tonnage
by one ton...doesn't make sense to me. cheaper option
would be to add more insulation...but from an energy rater's
perspective..air sealing prior to insulation, then downsizing
system & mastic sealing ducts is a better use of $$.

the added benefit of these suggestions is less dust intrusion
which comes from openings between
attic & living space. and insulation type. for example...cellulose insulation produces
a fine particulate matter of borate treated newspaper that
is mistaken for dust.
air sealing @ the ceiling of the rooms will help to reduce dust & reduce the heat/cold gain from attic into living space.
this sealing can be done from both attic side of ceiling
(attic floor) and from inside the house around areas like oversized cuts of supply boxes for hvac, bath fans, stove vents, recessed lights, attic accesses. you have recessed lights?

the benefit of mastic sealing ducts is to reduce the amount
of duct loss into the attic. most hvac companies focus on install, and duct sealing & duct install isn't the main priority.
paint on mastics..applied 'nickel thick' & mastic tapes are the right materials that will provide a long lasting seal.
duct & foil tapes fail in extreme attic temps quickly.

once ducts and returns are sealed air tight a media filter
will suffice. adding uv lights & such are not necessary when
duct system isn't allowing foreign matter into system.

my personal preference is to eliminate wyes..tri boxes
or whatever the companies are calling them. straight tight
runs of duct properly supported with duct strapping or duct saddles provide better distribution of air. so my testing & verification shows me.

best of luck.


clipped on: 09.24.2013 at 04:03 pm    last updated on: 09.24.2013 at 04:03 pm

best site for contemporary house plans?

posted by: susanka on 04.01.2012 at 12:21 am in Building a Home Forum

Hi, everyone. We're only beginning to consider that we might build a new home in a year or so. We're looking for a contemporary style with lots of glass, MBR plus guest bedroom, an office, and a TV/music room. Square feet, probably 2000 or so; we're empty-nesters who are building our final home. Our land, if we do this, is sloping. We're thinking of a one-story with a garage on one end down the slope; probably have a deck on top of the garage. This is a lot of detail, I know, but I'm trying to give as full a picture as I can of what we're considering. Thanks for any advice you can offer about a good place to start looking at house plans.


clipped on: 09.20.2013 at 11:46 am    last updated on: 09.20.2013 at 11:46 am

RE: New garage floor Epoxy? Pad? Tiles? (Follow-Up #17)

posted by: nvrfinished on 09.19.2013 at 03:47 pm in Building a Home Forum

In our first home we used a store bought epoxy. We used I think the Rustoleum kit. Not happy with it and part of it was our fault. We learned about preparation of the floor the hard way with that one.

For the home we are in now we went with a commercial epoxy kit from a company called Epoxy-Coat. What a difference! Our first floor looked just like the one in the picture from the post above. We've had this floor for almost a year and it still looks new. I like to work in the garage and nothing has stained it yet.

My wife learned about what we did wrong from this site with information about epoxy and garage floor coatings. It was very helpful. I think next time we might do the plastic tiles. They seem so much easier!


clipped on: 09.19.2013 at 05:06 pm    last updated on: 09.19.2013 at 05:06 pm

Need ideas for room over detached garage?

posted by: pbx2 on 09.09.2013 at 12:12 pm in Building a Home Forum

We have an unfinished detached 20x24 garage that we want to add a room over.

Currently, it's not framed to code for a room, but I can get to & stand up in the storage area above.
But I suspect we will have to tear off the roof & extend the height to make it room.
It's not tied to main house's water & sewage lines even though it's only 20 feet away
Electric is tied to main house.
No staircase available - currently only attic pull-down stairs is available.

We want to make it a flexible space in terms of being able to use as both as a home business/office space & guest bedroom.

We want to get good use out of it without making it the cost of a taj mahal or man cave LOL!

What good value components should I take into consideration in terms of:

1) HVAC - portable or centralized?
2) Insulation - cellulose or foam or other?
3) Solar panels - worth it to just power the garage esp. if it becomes a home base business center?
4) Inside or outside staircase?

Would appreciate any feedback.


clipped on: 09.13.2013 at 11:24 pm    last updated on: 09.13.2013 at 11:24 pm

2 stage AC vs Dehumidifer

posted by: Vatofl on 04.16.2013 at 12:40 pm in Heating & Air Conditioning Forum

I am building a 5500sq ft home in Southern Florida. The decision to upgrade from single stage to two stage AC units or adding a dehumidifier to each unit is confusing me.

What is recommended for high humidity areas?

I am worried that the two stage unit will require me to turn the thermostat really low to keep the humidity under control.


clipped on: 08.30.2013 at 02:24 pm    last updated on: 08.30.2013 at 02:25 pm

RE: Aprilaire Dehumidifier (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: ionized on 06.25.2012 at 02:18 pm in Heating & Air Conditioning Forum

Germany is sending all of its money to Greece and Spain, they have to get more somewhere.

I am glad that you can get it done under warranty. Scratch me off the Aprilaire potential customer list. If I needed a new kilobuck motor, I would be taking a close look at cobbling something in there or taking the motor to a rebuild shop. Usually the latter only work on large motors so maybe that would not work. One might be able to fit something using your own sweat, but it would not pay to have a pro service guy doing it.

When I first read your problem, It brought to mind this kind of central dehumidifier. I've considered doing this once or twice. See page 20:


clipped on: 08.30.2013 at 01:58 pm    last updated on: 08.30.2013 at 01:58 pm

The Red Barn of Courage (Follow-Up #70)

posted by: dutty on 08.26.2013 at 04:06 pm in Building a Home Forum

Uggh... this process has been a NIGHTMARE for me but we are painted on the exterior at least (except the doors which will be black). The fireplace people have basically made our life a living hell and have put us a month behind AND the roofers (in the middle of rainy season) have taken a MONTH to do the roof. Can you imagine?!?! So, we are still taking in water at the chimney and are at a stand still with drywall. Of course, insulation went in and is getting wet upstairs by the leak. Sigh.

Here are the latest pics. I'm still upset about the false double peak. It was supposed to be a true bump-out but the porch needed to change and that changed the roof line which changed the bump-out. I wanted to kill it but was over ruled by just about everyone. Other than that, I love my exterior. :)




clipped on: 08.28.2013 at 04:17 pm    last updated on: 08.28.2013 at 04:18 pm

How to Clean the Sediment from Hot Water Heater?

posted by: alwaysfixin on 01.27.2007 at 11:58 pm in Plumbing Forum

I am certain that my gas hot water heater isn't making as much hot water as it used to because of sediment and lime buildup in the tank. The heater is 5 years old, 50 gallons. I'd like to get it cleaned of that buildup. But who do I call to get the tank cleaned? I am not handy for that kind of thing, and the tank is in a very narrow space. Do I call a plumber? An HVAC person? And what would that kind of job cost? Thanks for your advice.


clipped on: 08.27.2013 at 02:57 pm    last updated on: 08.27.2013 at 02:58 pm

Cleaning Oven Racks with Glides Warning

posted by: kjonyou on 08.14.2013 at 02:03 am in Appliances Forum

Ugh, so I finally got a new oven after 10 years. It has these new racks that have glides on the sides with ballerinas so the rack slides all the way out like a nice drawer. Its an Electrolux.

I cannot figure out how to clean these things. What is the best way to do this without destroying the finish?

I know one method is to leave them in during self clean but these new ovens have a sensor that will not let you do that. Self clean will not activate until the racks are out. Plus it will ruin the finish.

I tried soap and water, soaking in a tub overnight in laundry soap and the ammonia in a plastic bag and Barkeepers friend.

The problem is the glides. After soaking in the tub, it did knock off a lot of stuff, but it also made the glides squeak because it got rid of the grease put on by the manufacture. So I used a little cooking oil and they worked fine. That is until actually baked something. The oil starting baking on and dripping off creating a small mess. The glides are now yellow from burnt on oil.

I the tried Ammonia. Tested it on a small toaster oven rack and wow! That stuff is amazing, sparkling clean chrome. So I did the same with my expensive oven racks and now what? Dull stained chrome. I tried polishing it up with some Bar Keepers Friend and it did help somewhat but nothing near new. Definably a lot duller then the untouched one.

And to put insult to injury, I located the special high temperature lube for food grade part by the manufacture and a 4oz tube is almost $50! New racks are $150 each.

Anyone have suggestions on how to clean these without damaging them? Not sure why the Ammonia made them dull.


clipped on: 08.20.2013 at 02:07 pm    last updated on: 08.20.2013 at 02:08 pm

Fiberglass vs. pleated furnace filters

posted by: ljbrandt on 05.04.2010 at 11:33 pm in Heating & Air Conditioning Forum

I've been doing ALOT of reading and research on this subject and can't find a definitive impartial opinion on which filter to use.
My situation : 2 year old Goodman 95% furnace and a/c unit. No allergies or excess dust buildup in the house...I just want the air handler to run as efficiently as possible with the least restrictive air flow, but don't want to lose mechanical efficiency by having dust build-up on the coils.
Will a basic �el cheapo� fiberglass filter changed every month be adequate in preventing dust buildup inside the unit? What�s your opinion? thanks!

P.S. as far as air filtration goes for pollen/dust etc�I�ll be using a 20" box fan with a 20x20 pleated air filter attached :=)


clipped on: 08.06.2013 at 02:06 pm    last updated on: 08.06.2013 at 02:10 pm

Caulk for specific application?

posted by: pbx2 on 07.11.2013 at 07:40 pm in Home Repair Forum

This is our first house & we want to baby it with TLC as much as possible in our attempts to provide a tight house & prevent any moisture issues.

What are good caulk types/brand for these specific application:?

1) Window trims - non bathroom
2) Window trims - bathroom
3) Outdoor trim around porch overhang
4) Bathroom vanities
5) Bathroom shower
6) Bathroom tubs

Appreciate any feedback.


clipped on: 07.15.2013 at 11:53 am    last updated on: 07.15.2013 at 11:53 am

Spray foam a gap by electrical wire run?

posted by: pbx2 on 06.13.2013 at 06:17 pm in Home Repair Forum

We live in the south & have an unfinished detached garage which has a 240V outlet that was brought/tapped in from the main house.

I see a little light showing through where the conduit hold the electrical wire is attached to the garage wall.

Can I find some canned spray foam & apply it around there to stop any drafts & bugs & consider it solved?


clipped on: 06.23.2013 at 11:52 am    last updated on: 06.23.2013 at 11:53 am

Robot Vacuums?

posted by: pbx2 on 06.12.2013 at 11:38 am in Cleaning Tips Forum

Hi - we'd like to sweep dust off our main hardwood floors but really don't want to have to do it ourselves everyday like we are right now.
Since both wife & I work full time jobs & we just feel too beat up afterwards to do it everyday much less every other day.
Luckily no pets but we both shed as humans LOL!
We're not sure when to actually clean the HW floors & maybe these robots can do that too but we could probably do it ourselves with less frequency.

Can we hear some recommendations between the various popular robotic sweepers out there please:
Roomba vs. Neato vs. Evolution Mint.

Main needs are:

Thanks for any feedback!


clipped on: 06.23.2013 at 11:50 am    last updated on: 06.23.2013 at 11:50 am

Lawn Leveling with Sand: My Experience with Pictures!

posted by: VisualCSharp on 06.28.2012 at 10:42 am in Lawn Care Forum

Hello, fellow GardenWebbers! My name is Nathan Alden, and I'd like to share my lawn leveling experience with everyone. Leveling is a popular topic here in the Lawn Care forum and hopefully my experiences will prove useful to others looking to undertake this challenge.

I'd like to begin by thanking my fellow posters here on GardenWeb for their advice leading up to me leveling my lawn. Your experience and advice proved most useful!

Next, information about my lawn and lawn care practices:

  • Region: Round Rock, TX
  • Grass: Bermudagrass Tifway 419
  • Turf origin: Sod laid September 2011 after new home construction
  • Soil: More clay than sand
  • Front lawn area: ~2000 sq ft
  • Mow height: 1"
  • Mower: Honda rotary model HRR216VKA
  • Clippings: Mulched
  • Mowing frequency: Every 3-4 days

Materials used for leveling:

  • 3 cu yd white masonry sand
  • One shop pushbroom
  • Garden hose with firehose nozzle
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Two people
  • Lots of effort

When I first moved into my new home, I knew next to nothing about lawn care. The extent of my experience came from mowing my parents' lawn when I was a teenager. This being my first home, I was determined to take care of the lawn and avoid the shabby to outright hideous look of most of my neighbors' lawns. The first thing I did was read the book Lawns: Your Guide to a Beautiful Yard. This book proved to be a great introduction into various lawn care practices. Using the information in the book, I was able to keep my lawn looking decent even after last year's drought. Here's a picture of a piece of my front yard from April:

Many folks might say my lawn looks pretty good, but I knew it could be better. Notice how the grass around the tree appears rutted and inconsistent. I mow at 1", and the mower would frequently bottom out, scalping several areas of the lawn and ruining the appearance. Determined, I decided that I would research how to level the lawn and hopefully create a much smoother, consistent, healthy appearance. I wanted to set a good example for the neighborhood!

I had been lurking on GardenWeb for some time, but in April 2012 I decided to create a thread asking for advice on leveling my lawn.

Notice the terribly uninformed title--I actually wanted help with leveling, not aerating and top-dressing; it goes to show how much I knew back then! Using the excellent wisdom provided by dchall in combination with other resources on the Web, I decided that I would level my front lawn in mid-May. Although dchall and others advised me to wait until June or July to level--when Bermuda is growing its best--I decided to level a bit earlier for a couple of reasons:
- I couldn't truly scalp my lawn; 1" was the lowest I was able to mow due to not owning a reel mower and the bumpy nature of the turf
- I knew it would be brutally hot in late June or early July; yesterday was June 27 and the temperature was 105! Neither the wife nor I wanted to be outside in that kind of heat pushing sand around.

After deciding on the timeframe, my next step was to acquire the leveling material. Although I have read information that says one should never add pure sand to a lawn, the reasons for using pure sand made more sense to me. I decided on masonry sand, as it consists of jagged edges that more easily lock together, meaning the sand stays in place better than other types of sand. After comparing prices for several area suppliers, I settled on Whittlesey Landscape Supplies' white masonry sand.

I ordered 3 cubic yards, enough to cover my 2000 sq ft lawn with 0.5" of sand, on average. Whittlesey delivered the sand in three giant white bags--one cubic yard each--on pallets. About these bags: They were /not/ water-proof. If you have sand delivered you'll want to cover any bags or piles with a water-proof tarp if you expect rainfall. I didn't do this and the effort required to shovel, wheelbarrow and push around the sand increased greatly as a result. Water evaporates from this amount of sand very slowly, even in Texas heat.

I started leveling on May 15, 2012. I was unable to find anyone interested in helping, so it was up to my wife and I to level the entire front lawn. We divided up the effort such that one of us would be filling up the wheelbarrow and trucking sand around while the other would be pushing it around with a pushbroom. She would shovel sand in lines perpendicular to the direction we were spreading, then I would push and pull the sand until there was a thick, consistent spreading. On our first pass of a portion of our lawn, we used too little sand, so you'll want to be liberal with the amount you spread. We eventually learned that the right amount of sand was enough to nearly cover the grass completely; we were barely able to see the grass after spreading. Remember that the sand will be watered into the grass, so don't worry about smothering your grass. By the time we finished we had only a few cubic feet of sand left, so it turns out our calculations were just about right.

For the spreading I used a standard shop pushbroom. Originally, I wanted to use what is known as a flippable lute, but the only ones I could find were only sold out of the UK, so I settled on what I had on hand. The pushbroom actually served as part lute and part broom. I flipped the broom over and used the rounded wooden side to move large volumes of sand around and the bristles to brush the sand into the grass. Eventually, I realized that merely watering the sand would work it into the grass via gravity, so I ended up mostly using the broom as a lute. The sand did ruin the front bristles, though, so you'll want to avoid using any prized brooms for this job.

I have an irrigation system, but I found that using a hose with a firehose nozzle was a more effective way to water in the sand. It took less time and allowed me more control over where the sand flowed--and yes, it does actually flow when it gets saturated.

I knew that there were some pretty deep depressions and holes in certain spots, so I used extra sand for those spots. The spots smoothed out nicely after watering.

Here are some pictures of a portion of my front lawn with the sand watered in:

Over the next few days, my wife and I finished the remainder of the front lawn. Soon thereafter, I fertilized with a 29-0-0 urea-based fertilizer. I also kept the grass heavily watered so that it could re-establish its thick blade system. Once the sand dried out, I noticed some of it had clumped on top of the grass. I used the pushbroom several times to brush the clumps free.

Here's my lawn on June 28, one-and-a-half months and a few touchups to some depressions and holes later:

Not golf-course quality, but certainly much better-looking than before! The mower hardly ever scalps, either; there are just a couple spots with which I must be careful to slightly raise the deck while mowing.

Something to consider is that adding sand will effectively raise the elevation of your turf. Depending on how low you mow, this can be a problem along edges when mowing header strips. In my pictures you can see that I have a concrete driveway with concrete sidewalks. The turf is now effectively 0.5" higher than it used to be. When I mow header strips, one side of the mower is on the concrete with the other side on the turf. In certain spots, the mower will bottom out, although it doesn't scalp because the grass is so thick and healthy.

Next year, I plan on addressing the lack of organic material in my soil by top-dressing with a good quality compost. Also, although the pictures do a good job of hiding it, I have a slight problem with crabgrass that I will also address next year. The lawn should look even better than this!

Thank you for reading! If anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask.


clipped on: 06.20.2013 at 09:42 am    last updated on: 06.20.2013 at 09:42 am

RE: Happy April! How's your building going? (Follow-Up #49)

posted by: pbx2 on 04.07.2013 at 12:17 pm in Building a Home Forum

After close to 8 months of building & over 1 year since engaging in the process we will begin our gradual move-in tomorrow into our modest bungalow.

Thanks to the community for helping & teaching us.
Lots of positives from this experience.

The below were from yesterday in delivery condition & awaiting our arrival - albeit a few more minor tweaks still needed - so it really hasn't ended LOL.

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This post was edited by pbx2 on Wed, Apr 17, 13 at 23:13


clipped on: 05.02.2013 at 07:23 pm    last updated on: 05.02.2013 at 07:24 pm

RE: insulation for floor of playroom (ceiling of 3 car garage) (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: lexmomof3 on 03.22.2013 at 09:10 pm in Building a Home Forum

They were out there foaming the roofline today. Just got the message that it would be $800 to foam the whole garage ceiling (three car garage, 792 sq ft). Will I get a good return on investment from foaming?


clipped on: 03.23.2013 at 09:22 am    last updated on: 03.23.2013 at 09:22 am

Blinds/Shutters - Best Place ???

posted by: dpusa on 03.03.2013 at 01:14 pm in Building a Home Forum

Hey all

We are within a month of moving in - outside of any recommendations for plantation shutters, roman shades or faux wood blinds?

Thanks so much


clipped on: 03.05.2013 at 10:46 pm    last updated on: 03.05.2013 at 10:46 pm

RE: Lowe's Iris or other home automation (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: Xclusive on 02.26.2013 at 10:54 pm in Building a Home Forum

Well here are a few things you can read which were great for me. Its kinda along the lines of you don't know what you don't know until you start to educate yourself a little bit. Here are a few budget friendly automation systems:

There are other such as Control4, Crestron, Savant, etc but they are very pricey.

Also, here is some good reading on how to wire your house/what to wire for which can get you started:

Hope that helps!


clipped on: 02.27.2013 at 10:29 pm    last updated on: 02.27.2013 at 10:29 pm

My brain is fried. Please help with granite and BS!!!

posted by: ShedTheChrysalis on 06.15.2012 at 12:15 pm in Kitchens Forum

Hi Everybody! I discovered this forum a few months ago when we bought our house and I've been more of a lurker - admiring everybody's kitchens and drooling over other member's swirly, veiny granite. Unfortunately, our kitchen is not in that category but I could really use some help! See...we had not planned this remodel. It turns out the previous owners tiled up to the cabinets, but not underneath. When the dishwasher leaked, it flooded that untiled area and rotted the cabinets. They were builder's grade anyway, but after 6k in unexpected roof repairs, we hadn't planned on remodeling for some time. Anyhow...we ended up gutting the kitchen, but following the same footprint. It's a galley and small, so there wasn't too much of an option. We finished the tiling and we got a good deal (so we think) on new Kraftsmaid cabinets (plywood boxes, maple, soft close drawers and doors, free paint upgrade, free hardware, free crown molding, free sink base, 42" uppers), for around 3k. We did chose a cheap door but it actually worked out pretty nicely. We bought and paid for granite, but they haven't templated yet so we can change it. Our kitchen is the Wickstrom square door panel and the top cabinets are canvas colored while the bottoms are onyx. Most of our furniture is Oriental rosewood, so this seemed to match. The appliances are all SS and we have a SS apron sink. The faucet will be a Satin nickel Kohler Bellera and all door hardware in the house is satin nickel Schlage Accent - very swirly and girly (ha ha). Our wall color is Valspar's April thicket. The granite we chose is called New Caledonia. It's 3cm and the fabricator gave us a free bullnose - normally they charge. We've decided to only use granite for the countertop and bar top and not get the 6" BS they tried to talk us into. I'm also second guessing the bullnose because the BS and bullnose (no offense to anybody who has this) sort of remind me of pre-fab stuff or laminate. So my question is: Which granite would you use and what edge would you use? We can't really spend more on the granite, so no fancy edges and the granite has to be one of the cheaper ones as well. Also, which BS would you use? I posted a pic of the kitchen now and I am so stresed out over this 4 month nightmare that any help I get would be totally appreciated. Although we have become expert pizza BBQers...I just can't wait for this to end :( Thanks so much! Sabrina


clipped on: 02.11.2013 at 09:49 pm    last updated on: 02.11.2013 at 09:49 pm

RE: Fixtures Vendors Online? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: bevangel on 06.26.2012 at 10:40 am in Building a Home Forum - Great prices on faucets and tubs - especially if you like the "old house" look. I got all my faucets and a gorgeous cast-iron clawfoot tub from them. They're not selling the "brand names" but every single faucet I got was solid heavy brass and beautifully made. No plastic parts in any of it. Plumber said it was all as nice as anything he'd ever installed. SignatureHardware had great service too. When one faucet arrived with a scratch despite their packing efforts (the outer box everything came in had been totally CRUSHED by the shipper but only this one faucet had any damage), they just had me email them a picture of the damage and then they shipped a replacement part right out. I had it within just a few days. Told me not to bother to ship back the scratched part as they couldn't resell it anyway. SignatureHardware also carries a lot of other things besides bath fixtures but prices on other items tend to be closer to prices you'll find at local stores. - I bought about a dozen light fixtures and several Hunter ceiling fans from them. No problems at all. Everything arrived on time and well packaged. Lighting Direct tells you the name of the manufacturer so you can easily compare prices with local stores and/or other on line sellers. You never know what they'll have in stock but it never hurts to look. And they will price match if you find something you like cheaper at another online vendor whose reputation may be a bit questionable. I got some great deals on Tiffany style mini-pendant lights for my kitchen. ($29.95 each). sometimes doesn't tell you the brand names when you shop but my pendant lights turned out to be Kichler lights that had been discontinued. They were still in their original Kichler boxes and had Kichler warranty cards enclosed. After getting mine I found a very similar Kichler fixture (slightly different Tiffany glass design but otherwise identical - same size, same pendant holder, etc.) at a local light shop for almost $200! I know it sounds funny but sometimes people are selling brand new building supplies on Craigslist. Maybe they ordered something for their homes and then changed their minds. You just have to keep an eye out and be ready to jump on it when you see something you like and can use. I got three brand-new Blanco Silgranite sinks via Criagslist, each for about 1/3rd of the suggested retail price! You do want to carefully inspect anything you're thinking of purchasing from a Craigslist seller because you don't get any warranties.


clipped on: 06.27.2012 at 12:42 pm    last updated on: 02.05.2013 at 02:10 pm

Pls suggest some online sites for purchasing lighting

posted by: tracey_b on 05.03.2010 at 12:16 pm in Lighting Forum

We're building, and it's time to choose lighting--so says my builder. I'd like to try and save some money over his local sources, if I can. So, please share some of your favorite lighting sites. Thanks!


clipped on: 02.05.2013 at 02:04 pm    last updated on: 02.05.2013 at 02:05 pm

Online retailer with good prices for lighting....

posted by: mistydatn on 02.12.2012 at 08:41 pm in Lighting Forum

Can anyone recommend a good place to order lighting online that is reasonable. I am aon a strict budget. Thanks!!!


clipped on: 02.05.2013 at 02:03 pm    last updated on: 02.05.2013 at 02:04 pm

Ben Moore Pale Gray Update--Help!

posted by: honeybeem on 05.06.2011 at 10:55 am in Home Decorating & Design Forum

I've been trying to find a pale gray or "pale gray with a hint of blue" for our living room. I've tried Benjamin Moore Moonshine(too dark, too green), Iced Blue Silver(pretty, but too blue), Classic Gray(too dark), Genesis White(too dark, too blue). From looking at the color chips Wickham Gray looks like it will be too dark as well. I'm almost ready to give up and just go with a cream, but hubby is encouraging me to keep trying. We love the picture below, on our screen it's a very pale gray, and maybe even has a teeny teeny bit of blue, but not so light so as to lose the definition between walls/trim. Any more suggestions? I was thrilled when hubby brought home a huge fan deck they'd given him at Ben Moore, but would take suggestions for other brands too...if you wouldn't mind checking out the pic...Thanks!


clipped on: 01.29.2013 at 10:13 am    last updated on: 01.29.2013 at 10:13 am

Please help... Other names for Quartzite and granite?

posted by: new_home1024 on 01.22.2013 at 01:41 pm in Building a Home Forum

I'm in the process of looking for granite for our new home. At the second place I went, I found two that I really like. I came home and googled the names and these do not seem to exist. Does anyone know other names for these?

Glacier Cloud Quartzite and Aztec Cream Granite


clipped on: 01.24.2013 at 10:25 am    last updated on: 01.24.2013 at 10:25 am

Home security system advice

posted by: graceshan on 01.07.2012 at 04:48 pm in Building a Home Forum

We live in a really safe neighborhood, but I don't want to miss out on wiring up for a home security system while we are in the electrical wiring phase of construction (in case we decide we do want a system). Since our new house will be much nicer than our old one, it might be more prone to burglars I suppose. At the very least I wanted to have a camera at the front door since our main living space is upstairs and the front door is downstairs.

Any suggestions? We are already over budget and it's straining a bit. I've heard about wireless options for security or having systems linked to your cell phone instead of a company. I'm just not sure what our options are for this type of thing short of having a security company come in and do all the wiring and having to pay them for service. Have others done pre-wiring before or used wireless systems before?



clipped on: 01.23.2013 at 10:12 am    last updated on: 01.23.2013 at 10:12 am

RE: Lighting budget for your build? (Follow-Up #18)

posted by: dpusa on 01.22.2013 at 06:52 pm in Building a Home Forum and (owned by Lowes) are good ones. Also, Home Depot online is cheap too...


clipped on: 01.23.2013 at 01:33 am    last updated on: 01.23.2013 at 01:33 am

Need help with Jacobean!

posted by: SiMBa37 on 12.30.2011 at 08:31 am in Flooring Forum

Hello All!

We just moved into a new house that had good condition standard oak floors, but that usual orange colored stain.

Here's a before look:
Original Floor

My wife and I really wanted that dark wood look.

Inspiration Room:
Inspiration room

Based on the floor sample stains we saw, we chose Jacobean.
KEY: far left (Special walnut), Middle top (Special Walnut + English Chestnut), Middle center (English Chestnut), Middle bottom (Ebony + English Chestnut), Far Right (Jacobean)
Floor Stains

The first coat of the stain was not anything close to what we wanted.

Hallway 1 coat of stain:
Hallway 1 coat

Family Room 1 coat of stain:
Family Room 1 coat

I called my flooring subcontractor, and told him its too light, and to put another coat of stain down, much to his annoyance. Here's the result:
Hallway 2 coats:
Hallway 2 coats

Front Hallway 2 coats:
Front hallway 2 coats

Living Room 2 coats:
Living Room 2 coats

The flooring guy was telling me the color will richen a bit once the 3 coats of water based sealant are put down, and it'll even out. I'm so torn what to do, my wife is not happy at all with the color, and with how much grain shows through.

Is what he says true? Should we get him to do a 3rd stain? With a differen't color perhaps? Or is this the nature of standard oak floors, that they will always have the grain come through like this?


clipped on: 01.17.2013 at 02:40 pm    last updated on: 01.17.2013 at 02:40 pm

minwax ebony, dark walnut or jacobean, help asap!

posted by: vicnewbuild on 06.05.2011 at 10:03 pm in Flooring Forum

We are building a house and I am going crazy trying to decide the stain for the oak floors. I want dark floors without any hint of red. I had the builder put a sample of all 3 on a plank for me and I think the Jacobean has a hint of green (am I wrong?), the dark walnut might be to light brown, and the ebony just looks like a light black without any brown in it. I am looking for a very dark brown color and I can only choose from Minwax stains. Would appreciate pics of any of these stains if used on your hardwood floors since a small sample board might not be indicative of an entire house!!
BTW - my kitchen will be an antique white with a glaze (perimeter) and island will be a dark maple called ginger snap.


clipped on: 01.17.2013 at 02:25 pm    last updated on: 01.17.2013 at 02:25 pm

Have a personal build blog? Link it here!

posted by: sweet.reverie on 10.03.2012 at 10:52 pm in Building a Home Forum

I have LOVED looking through all the blogs that have been linked in various posts. I don't know anyone in 'real life' who has built or is building, so this forum and these blogs have become my own little support system!

So if you have a blog from a past, current or future build, link it here! I would love to read it. :)

Don't be shy!

I will link mine too but it is pretty boring since we have not broken ground yet...

Here is a link that might be useful: My Blog


clipped on: 01.15.2013 at 07:12 pm    last updated on: 01.15.2013 at 07:12 pm

RE: Most carefree materials (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: zone4newby on 01.09.2013 at 04:30 pm in Building a Home Forum

If you wax chrome it will stay looking good longer. You can use car wax, but they also sell wax intended for use inside the home. I like Gel-gloss. If you apply it once a month or so it makes upkeep much easier. It's good for shower walls and doors too. Don't use it anywhere people will stand, though.


clipped on: 01.09.2013 at 11:17 pm    last updated on: 01.09.2013 at 11:17 pm

Finished! Marble lookalike, subway tile, custom medicine, all DIY

posted by: VictoriaElizabeth on 11.15.2012 at 10:38 am in Bathrooms Forum

Our original bathroom was old and grungy. Not to mention the bad DIY by the previous owner. Plus it was a terrible layout, with the sink and toilet on opposite walls, making an already small bath even smaller and hard to navigate. On top of all of that, you can see we have a large window in the shower.

Bathroom before we gutted it. Original bath before renovation. DIY home repair. Old bathroom remodel.

We gutted it, finding an entire other bathroom underneath which was a nightmare to remove. It was all concrete and wetbed and reinforcement wire... it was a mess. The previous owner just went right over it.

But for all the stress and anxiety, I am incredibly happy with the outcome. This may be the first house-renovation project that turned out exactly the way I wanted!

The remodel dragged on and on and on and on... All of which was my fault, since I found choosing fixtures and tile overwhelming. Mostly to do with my search for a marble look-alike tile that was a color/size/polish that I wanted... I do think the agony was eventually worth it. I really love the end result.

2 Victorian bathroom remodel, subway tile, peronda museum bianca carrara tile, marble, custom medicine cabinet, sconces through mirror, console sink, bath renovation, DIY, old house renovation1

I wanted the remodeled bathroom to have a vintage feel- the house was built in 1890. Plus, I happen to really like subway tile and console sinks. But I also wanted it to be clean and modern. And bright! Really, really, really bright! The large mirrors and sconces through the glass really opened up the narrow room and increased the light...

I always like when other gardenweb-ers say what the best decision they made was. And even though my favorite element is the large mirror over the sink, I think I would have to say our best design decision was either the extra-tall, between-the-studs custom medicine cabinet we built, or the transom window we added. Appearance-wise they are lovely, but also incredibly practical.

More photos and info about our bathroom remodel:

Here is a link that might be useful: Finished Bathroom


clipped on: 12.18.2012 at 10:31 am    last updated on: 01.04.2013 at 12:06 am

RE: Building Allowance for 720K house in NE help (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: bevangel on 12.27.2012 at 12:58 am in Building a Home Forum

1. Oak flooring in the entire home (except ceramic tile in the laundry room, master bath and
upstairs baths) - allowance @ $7.00/square foot.
Even assuming the allowance is meant to cover materials only, there are far to many variables involved with hardwood flooring to decide if this allowance is appropriate or not. Will you be getting engineered wood or solid wood flooring? If engineered wood, how thick will the wear layer be If solid wood, how thick? In both cases, what width boards? And are you okay with your builder using lots and lots of short pieces? With solid wood, do you want it prefinished or site-finished? If site finished, does your allowance have to cover wood stain and polyurethane or other top coats? Then there is the question of exactly what $7/sq ft means? Typically you have to purchase about 10% extra wood. If you're putting hardwoods thru-out a 3400 sq ft house except for laundry and baths, I'm guessing you'll be covering about 3000 sq ft in hardwoods. Thus you'll probably need to buy 3300 sq ft of wood. Will your builder say $7/sq ft means you have a maximum allowance of $7x3000 or $21,000? If so, you'll actually only be able to spend $6.36/sq ft. Ultimately, once you start looking into it, you will probably find that it is easier to specify the exact flooring you want rather than leave this item as an allowance?

2. Flooring for finished portion of basement carpet or tile @ $3.50/square foot.
For carpet, must the allowance stretch to cover padding as well as carpet? Must the tile allowance cover mastic and grout? And again, in both cases, you have to purchase extra material for wastage.

3. Tile allowances for materials only Master bath @ $5.50/square foot; additional baths @
$4.50/square foot.
Do you specifically WANT to use different tile in the secondary baths? If not, why wind up with leftover tiles in two different styles?

4. 50 recessed can lights throughout the house.
Be sure your contract specifies that all recessed cans that protrude into attic spaces MUST be ICAT rated (insulation contact air tight) lights. These are more expensive than non ICATs but Non ICAT recessed can lights are a significant source of heating/cooling loss. Bear in mind also that recessed can lights can be a real PITA to change when they are in 2 story vaulted ceilings or over a staircase where you can't easily put a ladder. Thus, you may not want 50 cans.

5. Lighting fixtures allowance @ $2500 (excluding 50 recessed cans referenced above).
I spent slightly over $3K for the light fixtures and ceiling fans for my 3200 sq ft home HOWEVER I shopped very very judiciously, bought practically everything on sale, and apparently don't have high end tastes when it comes to lighting. Light fixture prices vary enormously! My dining room light fixture cost $140. A friend of mine spent something like $1800 on hers. I like mine better. LOL! I strongly suggest that you do a little online research. Find light fixtures that you can live with for the following areas and see what they cost. Front door light, foyer light(s), dining room chandelier, kitchen pendants, master bedroom light; master bath vanity light(s). By the time you've done that, you'll have a much better idea of how far $2500 will stretch for you.

6. Kitchen appliances to include: refrigerator, propane cooktop, double oven, microwave &
dishwasher (allowance amount @ $5700).
Again research it. You know the quality you want in your appliances and you can get prices online. Don't forget you're going to need a vent for your cooktop. Those aren't cheap and I'll lay odds your builder will expect you to get that out of your allowance as well.

7. Kitchen cabinets allowance @ $7500.
NO WAY. I don't think you can even get low end cabinets for a small kitchen for that. Take your kitchen plan to one of the big box hardware stores that sells stock cabinetry, pick out something you could live with and have them do a plan for you. My guess is that you'll find that their estimate comes in at twice that allowance amount if not more.

8. Granite allowance for kitchen @ $2600.
How many sq ft of counter top will you have? That seems pretty low to me.

9. Granite allowance for master bath and upstairs baths @ $2500.
It doesn't make sense to me that you would have nearly as much granite in your bathrooms (even counting a master bath plus 2 additional baths) as you would have in the kitchen. Why would the allowance for granite in the bathrooms be basically the same as for the kitchen?

10. Allowance for plumbing fixtures for entire house @ $7000.
Again, whether this will stretch depends on what kind of tastes you have and how carefully you shop. You can get a vanity sink for $40 or easily spend $400. You can get a faucet for $60 OR spend $600. Make a list of fixtures you need and do some online research.

11. Allowance for all bathroom cabinets @ $2500.
This number actually sounds about right to me...maybe even a little high. $1k for the master, $500 for the PR and each of the other baths.


clipped on: 12.27.2012 at 10:30 am    last updated on: 12.27.2012 at 10:30 am

RE: Building Allowance for 720K house in NE help (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: virgilcarter on 12.26.2012 at 09:56 pm in Building a Home Forum

Be very cautious with allowances, especially so many of them for unspecified or unselected items. Your list is really a very long list of items and expenses.

As described, if I understand your numbers correctly, your budget (so far) is $211/SF, which even in urbanized areas should buy a reasonably well built and finished house.

The problem with allowances is several-fold:

--Allowances are at the mercy (and completely in the interest and control) of the builder. Many builders may deliberately low-ball allowances so as to make the initial construction cost seem reasonable or at least bareable;

--When owners really find out what they may get for a given allowance they will often find the choice(s) unsatisfactory and opt for higher end, higher prices finishes, equipment, appliances, etc. Thus, strong owner discipline is essential;

--The only way to eliminate or minimize allowances (and to know what the true, full construction expense will be (short of change orders for errors, omissions, owner's deciding to change or enlarge something during construction that was previously approved, etc.) is simple: work with a design professional, like an architect, and have as much designed and specified in the final construction documents used for bidding as humanly possible. Unfortunately, many owners find it daunting, or for other reasons, choose not to make many of the choices before bidding and construction, with the result of a long list of allowances just waiting for expensive substitutions.

You really need to do your best, disciplined due diligence from here on out and stick with the allowances given if you hope to maintain budget control.

Good luck with your project.


clipped on: 12.27.2012 at 10:25 am    last updated on: 12.27.2012 at 10:25 am

RE: please help me choose grout for this tile... (Follow-Up #27)

posted by: threeapples on 09.16.2012 at 04:07 pm in Bathrooms Forum

alright, here it is next to two mapei colors--are either of these choices better?
Uploaded with Snapbucket
Uploaded with Snapbucket


Light grey Grout in pic#2
clipped on: 12.12.2012 at 04:26 pm    last updated on: 12.12.2012 at 04:27 pm

RE: Best shower grout? (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: bill_vincent on 04.02.2010 at 09:35 am in Bathrooms Forum

If you're considering any of the chemical grouts, yes. That's why Mongo had the comment he did, and why I asked the question I did. Especially with the epoxy grouts, the epoxy matrix (which is an amber color) tends to give white grout at the very least, a yellow hue. This is industry wide-- not just Spectralock. Now, as for using the chemical grouts as opposed to a standard cement based grout, my own personal feeling is that unless you're having hard water problems, or something along those lines, it's a very high priced overkill (as in about 4 times the cost, just for cash and carry). Especially if you go with a grey grout, you won't notice any discoloration, even over time.


clipped on: 12.12.2012 at 11:15 am    last updated on: 12.12.2012 at 11:15 am

RE: Audio/Video Planning in a new house david_cary please help! (Follow-Up #11)

posted by: Northlut on 06.28.2012 at 04:24 pm in Building a Home Forum

Cat5e will work fine for HDMI, and indeed, probably for anything you'd need in your house. That said, the primary expense in cabling is the labor, not the materials, so running Cat6 is generally not dramatically more expensive. I personally prefer to run Cat6 for future proofing, unless the cost is dramatically different. Cat6 is somewhat harder to work with and terminate properly than Cat5e is, so you'd want to make sure your installers are capable of doing it correctly.

My multi-room TV solution is not the best you can do, but it works for us.

I have coax and network run to each room with a TV, and a Tivo there. That allows me to watch live TV, and I can also watch recordings from any other Tivo in the house, as well as Netflix, Amazon Video on Demand, Hulu etc. I also have a file server that has some saved video and audio content on it. The Tivos can play that over the network from any room. And I have a blu-ray player in each room for playing discs.

It's not what some would call a "whole house" solution, but it works really well for us. Yes, it would be more convenient to not have to put a disc in every time we want to watch a blu-ray. But the alternatives for that are either a pain or expensive (or both). The coolest way to go is something like Kaleidescape, which gives you a true whole-house movie library with no discs. But it's insanely expensive. You can rip your DVDs, but it's time consuming and most of the solutions for playing them back aren't that great in my opinion, especially if you have non-technical people using it (which is true for most of us, and even those of us who are technical don't necessarily want a challenge when we're kicking back to watch a movie). You could have a central disc player and distribute the video, but then that leaves you having to go there to put in the discs, and the only real benefit is that it saves you the cost of a player in each room. Blu-ray players are cheap.

There are tons of things you can do, but I think a lot of it is overkill for most people. A Tivo and a disk player in each room with cable and network is a good way to go. Or even skip the disc player if you don't watch many discs.


clipped on: 12.11.2012 at 01:08 pm    last updated on: 12.11.2012 at 01:08 pm

RE: Home security system advice (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: shifrbv on 01.09.2012 at 08:12 pm in Building a Home Forum

Don't listen to those. You can get alarm monitoring for as little as $9/month. Buy DSC, Visonic, Caddx, HAI, Napco and get it installed. Install metal conduit on outside cables. No way someone will be digging in full few.


Buy DSC, Visonic, Caddx, HAI, Napco and get it installed.
clipped on: 12.11.2012 at 12:52 pm    last updated on: 12.11.2012 at 12:52 pm

RE: Home security system advice (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: worthy on 01.07.2012 at 06:22 pm in Building a Home Forum

Everybody thinks they live in a "really safe neighbourhood" until the burglars come kicking in their front door--the usual entry place. Or bodies show up in cars or a neighbour is shot dead or there's a home invasion. All things that have happened near me at various times living in "good" neighbourhoods.

A camera at the front door is convenient. But it does nothing if you're not home. For security purposes, it's better to mount cameras up high in protected enclosures and which are able to record and/or transmit images.

A local system will just annoy the neighbours. To be of any use, it must be monitored remotely. But not by a telephone line. Every burglar knows that cutting the phone line usually puts an end to that. (The exception is systems that send out a signal every minute or less and respond if there's no reply.)

I've been using a cell phone monitored system. The instant an alarm is sounded--whether by motion detector, contact or glass breakage--a guard service or the police are notified and call the contact number. If there's no response with the correct ID # the police/private guards are dispatched. When our system has been set off, they've arrived in 8-10 minutes. That doesn't keep the bad guys out, but it sure cuts their stay.

Where we moved from, both next-door neighbours and my purchaser were burglarized. Busybody that I am, I had suggested to all of them to install cell monitored systems. But even though they had just paid $1.2 to $2.2 million for their homes, they didn't want to spring for the $600 installation cost and $27 a month monitoring!

The burglars--two kicked in the front doors, one broke a glass patio door--had free rein while the homeowners were away for days. Still, they got off easy compared to another homeowner with an unmonitored system around the corner: the burglars didn't get anything, but they left a backdoor open and raccoons invaded. Talk about party animals!

The security company I have been using for 30 years for my own homes and those I build tells me that wiring a home is more effective than wireless. So I would at least run the wiring. Then, after someone breaks in, you'll be all set to connect it.


clipped on: 12.11.2012 at 12:49 pm    last updated on: 12.11.2012 at 12:49 pm

RE: What do I need to know to buy a wall mount? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: yosemitebill on 08.24.2012 at 08:38 pm in Home Entertainment Forum

Sounds like what you are looking for is what's known as an articulating wall mount.

The VESA (video electronics standards association) 75x75 through 800x400 numbers refer to the horizontal x vertical spacing of the 4 mounting holes on the back of the display. You look for a wall mount based on the VESA mounting standard, the television's weight (not size) and if any type of movement desired.

Typically, for an articulating wall mount, I will only use one rated for about 150% of the television's weight - sometimes mfgs. are just a little too optimistic and there's nothing worse than getting done and finding the television and mount sagging when extended.

Also, for some reason, the included lag bolts that attach the wall mount to the studs are almost always the absolute cheapest available and then almost always one will snap off during installation - go to the hardware store and just purchase some better quality lag bolts of the same size beforehand.


clipped on: 12.04.2012 at 12:28 pm    last updated on: 12.04.2012 at 12:28 pm

RE: Rigid foam vs. spray foam under crawlspace (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: energy_rater_la on 11.22.2012 at 07:14 pm in Heating & Air Conditioning Forum

Louisiana chiming in here.

we have done it both ways...actually 3 ways.

open vented crawlspacew without ductwork
& equipment in crawlspace.

1-air sealing of large openings in floors..under tubs
around plumbing & elec penetrations.
R-25 batts in floor joists. 2x6 joists
not R-19 because it settles creating an air
space between insulation and bottom of floor.
this air space condensates and rots floors.
thus the upgrade to R-30, slightly compressed
to overfill joist bay, resulting in actual R-25 value.
1" extruded polystyrene sheathing with foil facing.
nailed foam sheathing to undersides of joists with
button cap nails. taped all seams. at perimeter
of house foam board was caulked at exposed edge.

this install allowed insulation to perform as it
was no longer wind washed & reducing R-value at
exterior of walls. the foam sheathing added R-7 to
the R-value of floors and moisture could not enter
floors from crawlspace.

this turned out to be the highest performance floor
insulation job.
labor intensive..very labor intensive. thankfully the
house was raised 3 1/2' off the ground making access
not as difficult.
this install was south central La.

after hurricane Katrina in New Orleans we did this
install recommended at that time.

2-air sealed floors from inside crawlspaces..caulk,
flashing, backer rods & more caulk.
no batts in floors.
dow blue board 3/4" installed as above with button cap
nails, seams caulked and caulked at exterior walls.
floor insulation value (again 2x6 joists) were value
of foam sheathing plus minimal R-value of air at rest.

labor intensive, to me..less satisfying results.
pro was..if flooding ever occured these joists with no
insulation would dry quickly when foam sheathing was
cut to allow circulation. once floors were dry again..
then the sheathing could be put back in place.

3-the last type of insulating floors over open crawlspaces
is closed cell foam. again large plumbing pipes under tubs have to be sealed first. any opening over
3" should have some type of filler prior to install of foam.
install depth of closed cell is 3".
note this is not 'average' fill of 1/2 up to 3" but
3" minimum.

with this install air leakage reduction was achieved,
and insulation value was approx R-20
this performed as well as install one.

here is a link to a study that came out well after
we had been doing installs. but it is nice to have verification.

keep in mind with spray foam insulation that floor coverings & types of finishes for wood floors can't form
interior vapor barriers.

best of luck.


clipped on: 12.03.2012 at 11:14 am    last updated on: 12.03.2012 at 11:14 am

RE: Painting just one section of house different color? (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: hollysprings on 10.07.2012 at 09:49 am in Building a Home Forum

As the home appears to be 4 linked structures rather than a single family residence, I'd actually emphasize that feature by choosing different but closely allied colors for all 4 sections. Pick a color for the larger section that you like, and then go to adjacent color strips and slightly up or down the scale for the other three sections.

Ocean Pearl for the main larger section.

Squirrel for the small section to the left of the main. (going darker emphasises the fact that it's set back from the main house, and that makes it more interesting)

Koala Bear for the next. It's a little bit browner, but none of the greys are stark bluish greys. They are all more greiges.

And for the last section, darker, and slightly browner again, in Ashwood.

Set it all off with crisp white trim and a warm accent color like a brick red/orange or a purplish burgundy for the doors.


clipped on: 12.03.2012 at 12:45 am    last updated on: 12.03.2012 at 12:45 am

FYI--Carrera Marble Look Alikes

posted by: karena_2009 on 07.12.2010 at 10:40 pm in Bathrooms Forum

Hi Everyone,

I love the look of carrera marble, but hesitate to use it for the bathroom due to the maintenance factors. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Tile Shop carries a line of carrera glazed porcelain tiles that are very realistic looking. It's called the Sophia Series. They have three different colors: white, green, and gold. The white looks like Calcutta Oro, which has blue-grey veining with some red. I compared it against the Jeffery Court carrera marble tiles from Home Depot.

It comes as large as 12 x 12 and also in 6 x 6 and 3 x 6 sizes and it's made in Italy.

I'm also going to get samples from Dal Tile because they also make a carrera look alike tile, too.

If anyone else knows of a good source for other carrera look alikes, please let me know!


clipped on: 12.01.2012 at 10:42 am    last updated on: 12.01.2012 at 10:42 am

RE: American Olean Coliseum vs. Daltile Carrera Star (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: gary1227 on 03.28.2010 at 11:31 am in Bathrooms Forum

We did our master bath in the A/O Coliseum white. Our floor tile is a matt finish porcelian tile and the wall tiles are a glazed ceramic. You could use the matt floor tiles on the walls but using the glazed wall tiles on the wall is not recommended. We also used the mosiac tile for our shower floor. After living with the tile in our bath for a year now, we love it. It looks great and is easy to keep clean. We did use real carrera marble chair rail pieces to border the tile and ceaserstone quartz for our counter tops and shower ledges. The A/O tile does have a grey tint to it and bright whites, yellows and brown tones don't work well with it.

I think we paid about $2.25sqft for the tile at the time.

Below is a few photos of our bath just after completion.





clipped on: 12.01.2012 at 01:53 am    last updated on: 12.01.2012 at 01:53 am

My Marble Tile Lookalike Recommendation

posted by: VictoriaElizabeth on 05.04.2012 at 11:49 am in Bathrooms Forum

Like everyone says in their first post... I've lurked here for a while. I've found the forums a fantastic resource for ideas and inspiration.

The one thing I couldn't find was a marble look alike that I loved. There are plenty of recommendations, and I saw ALL of them in person. Even ordered samples online of stuff I couldn't get locally. None of them worked for me.

It didn't occur to me to take pictures of all the tile I hauled home, or take notes on what it was. I am sorry about that now, since that could have been valuable information to someone.

We are renovating an 1890, Victorian bath. I want to retain a vintage feel, but with a sleek, clean modern design. Trying to marry these two esthetics seems to hinge on the flooring. This is what I had in mind: What I had in mind

The tile became insanely stressful. Amazing how small details can be utterly absorbing and time-consuming.
My specific wants:
Oversized!! Small tile = lots of grout lines = OCD onslaught.
Marble look alike
Grey-ish Carrara look
Subtle pattern

I realize this is a super-specific list, but on the chance that one person will benefit from all of my searching, what we are going with is:
Peronda Museum, 18x18, polished, porcelain, bianca carrara

I don't think the online photos I found are really accurate. This has a lot to do with my opinion that you cannot know what a tile truly looks like; until you lay at least three in the space you're going to use it. I will post photos here once I figure out how to make them not huge. I linked to my online photo but the picture was massive. I guess I need to compress it somewhere?

Thank you to all the people who post their photos, experiences, and advice! The forums have been such a resource. I will be sure to post photos of the floor installed and grouted after the weekend!!

Here is a link that might be useful: Our Bath Renovation


clipped on: 06.11.2012 at 04:49 pm    last updated on: 11.29.2012 at 09:56 pm

RE: Thermostatic valve or pressure balance valve? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: mongoct on 11.27.2012 at 02:28 pm in Bathrooms Forum


Thermostatic valves and pressure-balanced valves both provide scald protection.

Pressure-balance valves generally control a temp to +/-3 degrees, thermostatic valves to about +/-1 degree.

PB valves are generally single-control valves. You turn the single lever or knob and essentially get 100% volume flow out of the shower head. How far you rotate the valve selects the water temperature. For the most part there is no true volume or flow control. Each time you turn the valve ON you're getting full flow, rotating the valve simply sets the temperature.

There is a "maximum temperature limit" on PB valves, but in general it's more of a mechanical limit that restricts how far you can rotate the lever versus a true limit on the maximum water temperature that can come out of the valve. You set the water to as hot as you'd like it to be. Then you adjust a set screw built in to the valve. The set screw limits the valve from being rotated beyond that setting. It essentially limits the maximum "hot water" to "cold water" mix ratio coming out of the valve.

If you were to turn up max temp on your water heater, you could get scalding water out of your valve if you don't reset the set screw. If you turn your water heater temp down to conserve resources, you might only get lukewarm water out of the shower head until you reset the set screw.

So don't think of PB valves as controlling the temperature. Think of them as controlling the ratio of hot to cold water that comes out of the shower head. You flush a toilet. The toilet refill now demands cold water. The PB shower valve senses that there is less cold water coming through the supply tubing and in to the shower valve, so in turn it chokes down the amount of hot water coming through the valve to maintain the same hot-to-cold ratio through the valve.

TS valves usually have two controllers. One knob/lever to set the volume flow. Another to control temperature. The two controls allow you to have a trickle flow of water through 100% full flow of water at any temperature, from cold to hot.

You can leave the temp setting in the same place for years at a time and simply use the volume control to turn the water flow on and off.

The scald setting on a thermostatic valve actually limits the actual water temperature to a specific temperature. Turn up your water heater? The TS valve doesn't care. It'll still limit the water temp to the max temp it is currently set to. A TS valve controls the actual water temperature. A PB valve controls the ratio of hot to cold water.

It's a difference that you may or may not ever notice.

In a house with good plumbing, you'll usually not notice a difference between the two valves. They both control the temperature just fine.

If you live in an older house with wonky plumbing where you notice a drop in water pressure out of the shower when flushing a toilet, then a thermostatic valve may be the better choice.

If you want the best temperature control, or if you like to reduce the water flow out of the shower head when shampooing without changing the water temperature, then the thermostatic would be the better choice.


clipped on: 11.28.2012 at 11:43 am    last updated on: 11.28.2012 at 11:43 am

RE: Sonos or in-house wiring? (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: zagyzebra on 11.19.2012 at 12:00 pm in Electronics Forum

I have done considerable research on this subject, and gratefully have been provided with the most thorough answer from a professional one could hope to get. I am posting it as follows in the event other GardenWeb users have similar questions...

"Wireless is a great way to move signals around without having to open up the walls, it can save a lot of patching and painting. If the walls are going to be open anyway, though, you'd be a fool not to run a wire to every place you think you might possibly someday want one, and then run some spares just to be sure.

Sonos is an excellent system that sounds like it'd be perfect for your immediate needs, but you should still wire it. Sonos boxes can communicate wirelessly, but if you plug each one directly into the house network you'll have much less noise interfering with your wifi and won't have to worry about placing each box so that is within range of another. Sonos units also require wiring to the speakers, and you might want those to be installed in the walls or ceilings and wired to wall plates (in each room or all in a central location.) If you think you might want installed speakers at some point, it's really easy to wire for them while the walls are open, then just sheetrock over them and leave them there until it's time to cut the speaker in.

For maximum flexibility I would recommend the following:

Figure out where your router and modem are going to live (let's say the basement, maybe behind the stairs) and mount a network and cable/satellite distribution box there. This should ideally be someplace accessible for when you inevitably need to reboot these things. To this box you should run the incoming lines from the street: cable, telephone if you're doing that, and also satellite (run a few RG-6 coax up to the roof or attic now even if you're not getting a dish right away.) You'll also need power, typically the box will have a knockout where your electrician can install a receptacle that you'll use to power your modem, router, switch etc.

This box will be the hub for your wiring system, all the rooms will be wired directly back to it ("home run" in wiring-speak.)

To cover the house with good wifi signal, you should pick places for wireless access points and run a CAT6 to each of these locations. For a 2500 square foot single-level house I would start with 3 access points, with one in the middle and two more out toward the ends. They should be someplace where you can unobtrusively mount them high on a wall, and where you can get to them for rebooting as needed (hall or bedroom closets are good for this, as are high shelves in built-in bookcases) They will typically need an outlet for power, so plan for that too. I highly recommend getting the access points and setting them up before the walls are closed, so that you can test whether the coverage is adequate and change locations or add more access points as needed. At least bring one and try it in each spot in turn to get a ballpark idea of coverage.

For every large room in the house (bedroom, office, kitchen, etc.) you should have at least one CAT6 drop for a network jack. If you're feeling flush, make it two per location; CAT6 is primarily used for network, but it's cheap and can be used for landline telephone or repurposed to do almost anything else. These should go back to the main box where you will install a network switch, which could be big enough to make all the jacks in the house active at once, or you could get away with having a small switch and plugging in only those jacks that you're actively using. With this setup a housemate/tenant could conceivably have their own second modem in the box providing private internet service to their portion of the house.

For any location where you might want to put a TV, I would run a bundle or a structured cable ("structured cable" is just several standard cables wrapped in an outer sleeve that makes it easier to deal with) containing 2 CAT6 and 2 coax cables. This gives you a lot of flexibility as far as hooking up cable or sat boxes, internet-enabled set-top devices, etc. This bundle should go from the spot in the room where you want the equipment for the TV to the box in the basement. You should also add a conduit or "smurf tube" from the equipment location in the room to the place where a wall-mounted TV would actually hang. This will allow you to pull one or more HDMI (or network, or Kinect, or whatever crazy gizmo comes next) from the equipment up to the screen without draping cables down the wall. Also, of course, consider power requirements for the TV and have a recessed "clock receptacle" installed at each TV location. Just stapling a long HDMI cable inside the wall is a bad idea, since HDMI ends can't really be replaced in situ so you'd be out of luck if the cable were ever damaged, to say nothing of potential future standards that might use different cables or connectors.

For any room where you might want sound, you should pick speaker locations on the walls or ceiling (ideally with good separation but not too close to a corner, and not opposite one another such that they're faced directly at each other) and from those spots run speaker cable first to a spot in the room where you might want to put a stand-alone audio system or Sonos box (this spot should also have network and power) then from there back to the box in the basement. This will give you maximum flexibility when deciding whether you want a centralized audio distribution system or a bunch of little independent systems. I'd recommend 16 gauge wire or thicker, brand is honestly not so important. You can use a single 4-conductor cable so you just need to run one to each room and split it where you need it to reach both speakers, simplifying the wiring process and making it easier to organize the cabling at the main box.

To run the music system, one cheap and expandable way to go would to get a single Sonos Connect box and hook it up to an amplifier, then run the output of the amp through a speaker selector (I've never used this one but it would let you drive 5 sets of speakers from a single Sonos/amp combo. It won't get very loud but is the cheapest way to get started.) You can then set the relative volumes of your zones on the front of the selector and use the Sonos app on your phone or computer to adjust overall volume as you listen. You can easily expand this system as needed by adding additional Sonos units and amps and decoupling them from the selector, or add more zones by splitting the output of the Sonos and feeding it into a second amp/selector combo. Sonos does a good job of combining units to play in unison for when you want the same music everywhere, or you can use multiple units to listen to different things in different rooms. This approach allows you to keep all the amps and equipment in a single location, so you can have sound without devoting shelf space in the room to it. It'll also help you save costs on power conditioning, since you only need one big surge protector.

Here are some guidelines for making sure the work is being done competently and that the right materials are being used:

A good home network specialist will test each network jack and not consider the job done until they all test good. An electician will usually not have the tools to do this as they wire, but they'll be cheaper and it might be worth the savings to you if you can do some basic testing yourself: plug in a router at the main box and then walk around with a computer and making sure it can connect to the router through each jack, then call them back to fix any bad ports. Either way, you should make sure the jacks are tested before a tenant moves in.

All your network cabling should be punched down into a patch panel which should be clearly labeled with the location of each jack. You can then use short ethernet cables to connect each jack to your network switch.

Wireless access points should be set to use the same ssid (network name) and password scheme but different channels. This will allow your phones and laptops to seamlessly roam from one access point to the next as you move around the house.

Coax should be quad-shield RG-6, sometimes people try to cheap out and use RG-59 which is really not adequate for long runs

Low voltage cabling like speaker and network should not be bundled with electrical wiring or run parallel with it within a foot or so for long distances, this can cause noise and interference. Whenever possible low voltage cabling should cross electrical wiring at a right angle.

Standard landline telephone should never share a CAT6 cable with network. (It's actually possible to wire this in a way that will seem to work fine, but your network's speed will be severely degraded because your equipment will be forced to use the older, slower 100 megabit standard rather than the current gigabit standard.) This is different from VOIP that uses the network itself to digitize the telephone signal a la Skype or phone service through your cable or fiber ISP, I'm talking about physically wiring an old-fashioned phone jack to two conductors of the CAT6 that you're also using for network.

A switch is required to "split" the network connection, and an electrician who tries to split ethernet by just splicing (or "bussing") the wires together is bulshitting you and has probably never wired ethernet before, because it won't work at all. I shouldn't even have to mention this but I've seen it done more than once. It's not so bad if they home run it and just splice it all together in the box like it was telephone (you can just rip out their bussing block and replace it with the right stuff,) but if they try to daisy-chain more than one jack it's a nightmare.

On more note; any crawl spaces should be connected together by as much conduit as you can squeeze in, ideally 3 or 4 2 inch pipes, so that there is a path for future wiring to take from one end of the house to the other. They should be clearly labeled at each end so that future workers can find them and know where they go even if you've sold the house or forgotten about them."


clipped on: 11.21.2012 at 10:54 am    last updated on: 11.21.2012 at 10:55 am

led ucl continuation

posted by: davidtay on 12.03.2011 at 11:05 pm in Lighting Forum

Since there is quite a bit of continued discussion on LED UCL, continuation of jem199's LED UCL DIY

Here is a link that might be useful: LED UCL DIY


clipped on: 11.05.2012 at 04:43 pm    last updated on: 11.06.2012 at 10:55 am

RE: Where should I start? Your favorite source? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: Chibimimi on 10.30.2012 at 11:12 am in Lighting Forum

For inspiration, I use Rejuvenation HouseParts (I think it's, Restoration Hardware, and Pottery Barn.

Then try to find something similar on or Ballard's also often has stylish fixtures at a decent price.


clipped on: 11.05.2012 at 12:25 pm    last updated on: 11.05.2012 at 12:25 pm

led ucl diy

posted by: jem199 on 06.17.2010 at 12:19 am in Lighting Forum

Instructions for LED DIY
1. Measure the inside bottoms of the front width of your cabinets, between the sides (called fences). This assumes that the upper cabinets are completely flat bottomed.
2. Create a box diagram of your pper cabinet layout on paper and include the measurements.
3. Decide how many lighting zones (circuits) youd like (groupings with their own switch or dimmer). Decide if you want dimming in each zone. You will need a transformer and a switch for each zone. Purchase dimmable transformers and switches for the zones that require dimming.
4. If you have lighting levels in your current kitchen you like, determine the lumens (light output) of those lights to be sure you are adding similar brightness. I used the following
Incandescent are typically 14 lumens per watt.
Fluorescents are typically 60 lumens per watt.
The lighting should be determined by a desired lumens per linear ft basis. The type of lighting (xenon, halogen, fluorescent, led, EL) possible could be dictated by conformance to local laws (eg - title24) FWIW, has a claimed output of 83 lumens per watt. Environmental lights has their lumens here:
5. Determine the lengths of lights for each cabinet. You want at least one light every 30". Many have suggested getting the widest you can for each cabinet and then putting them on a dimmer to give you the most flexibility for task and ambient lighting. You can stack two or more lightbars parallel and connect them with jumpers for more lumens over a high-task area, such as a sink.
6. For each zone, add up the volts for the lights in the zone so you can select the appropriate transformer. Add 15% to your total. Here are the conversions I used (This is specific to the environmentallights type light bar)
15 cm = 5.9" = 1.65w
30 cm = 11.8" = 3.3w
60 cm = 23.6" = 6.6w
90 cm = 35.4" = 9.9w
7. Decide where you will place your transformer(s). Transformers should be placed in a wall, but in a cabinet, basement or attic where there is circulation and you can access it, if needed. You need one transformer for each lighting zone. By code, the transformer(s) have to be in an accessible location. One transformer per lighting zone is required if independent control of each zone is required. If multiple transformers are required, you need to ensure that there is adequate electrical branch wiring to the locations where each transformer is located. The necessary switch controls need to be planned for.
8. Add your lights to your box diagram. This will help you determine the accessories needed and where to place the wires. The lights in each zone must connect to each other and each cable must reach the transformer. For new installs, you can pull the wires back through the wallboard. For existing installs, bring the cables over the tops of the cabinets. You need at least 2 mounting clips per light. You may also need seamless connectors and/or right angle cords for tight spaces between the lights and fence where the cord needs to travel to the back of the cabinet. Interconnected zones should be wired in parallel not series so that a problem in one light bar/ zone would not cause all the lights to go out.

Parts List
1. In wall wiring - Ideal brand low voltage wiring (from HD or Lowes).
2. Ideal Plug disconnects (from HD or Lowes).
3. Lights - depends on how much light you want, total length of cabinets.
4. Transformer(s) - depends on cummulative consumption + 15% margin.
5. Inter-connect wiring.
6. Lightbars from Email for pricing sheet.
7. Transformer from
8. Leviton 6613 magnetic dimmers 1 for each circuit/zone. Check with transformer supplier if youd like to use a different one. Incompatible dimmer switches can void your transformer warranty. This particular dimmer reco assumes that low voltage (12V or 24V) LED lighting will be installed and contains many details specific to environmentallights type lightbars. Magnetic dimmers from various vendors could be used, but require some testing first. If you use a different transformer, check with the manufacutuer if there are known problems with certain dimmers. You can Hook up the system prior to installation for a test run if possible - switch(es).Things to look out for
1. There is no buzzing/ humming sound from the transformer when everything is hooked up and powered on.
2. All lights are equally bright, especially at the ends.
3. No flickering
4. No problems when dimming.

Tips specifics to this type of environmental lights type lightbar:
1. Its a waste to buy the long length 3 prong interconnects. Just cut the interconnect wires and attach to a disconnect.
2. Two adjacent prongs are actually connected to the same DC line. The third is connected to the other DC line.
3. The right angle interconnects are probably more useful for connecting bars set at an angle to each other.
4. You could use flat wire under the cabinets as it comes with double side sticky tape. Some DIY work would be necessary with a soldering iron + heat shrink tubing.
The flat wire is useful in situations where you do not like to see standard low voltage wiring.
5. The plug disconnects would be used to connect the in-wall low voltage wiring to the lighting power cords which connect the lights. It would also connect the in-wall low voltage wiring to the transformer. This way, if you ever decide to change out all the lighting bars to another make, it would be a simple matter of disconnecting from the plug disconnects and perhaps the transformer.

Thanks to davidtay for this information! Be sure to watch both parts of the DIY video below. Its shows how to wire these to household current.

Here is a link that might be useful: UCL Install Video


clipped on: 11.05.2012 at 10:59 am    last updated on: 11.05.2012 at 10:59 am

LED recessed cans guide for kitchen ...

posted by: davidtay on 01.30.2012 at 01:27 am in Lighting Forum

A collection of tips/ answers
Since kitchens have higher lighting requirements, I like to use 35 lumen per sq ft as a rule to compute the number of lights. If there are additional sources of light that will be used, the output (lumens not watts) from those sources can be deducted from the total.

Placement/ layout
1. Cans should be > 24 to 30 inches from the wall (on center). Most countertop spaces have upper cabinets (typically ~ 12" deep) + crown molding. The edge of the can may be spaced ~ 12" away from the edge of the crown molding (if present or cabinet if there is no crown molding) making the average distance between 26 to 30 inches.

2. Assuming the need for a fairly uniformly lit space @ 35 lumens per sq ft, the cans may have to be spaced closer together - between 3 - 4 ft apart (if all general lighting is provided by recessed lights). A fairly regular pattern is preferable to a random layout.

3. The actual layout of cans will be impacted by the location of ceiling joists, HVAC ducting, electrical wiring, plumbing, ceiling height, fire suppression sprinklers and other obstructions above the ceiling.

The Cree LR6 series lamps do not dim as well as the later models (CR6, ...). ELV dimmers probably work better with LR6 than incandescent dimmers since the total load of the lights may not meet the minimum load requirement for the incandescent dimmer.

Dimmers such as the Lutron Diva CL dimmers work well. The max output is 95%.

Some Choices (in order of preference) and notes
Cree CR6 or ECO-575 (Home Depot branded CR6)
ECO4-575 (Home Depot branded Cree CR4 4" recessed light)
The above are only available in 2700k light color.

Cree LR6 series - including the LE6.

The Cree CR6 and LR6 lamps will not fit into 5" housings.

The standard LR6 behaves more like a surface mount than a recessed light as the LED emitters are close to the surface and the recess is shallow. Some may not like the amount of light spillage (standard LR6).

There is a higher output version of the LR6 that has a much deeper recess.

To prevent the Cree lamps from falling out, the 3 prongs have to be fully extended and a slight clockwise twist made when push installing. The slight clockwise twist will ensure that the prongs are fully extended.

The Cree lamps are currently the best available today (2012).

Sylvania RT-6, RT-4. The lights could be easier to install than Cree lamps as they utilize the torsion spring mechanism. However, the lights do not look as pleasant as the Cree lamps.

The Cree and Sylvania lamps do outperform 26W CFLs (and incandescents) in a standard recessed can in terms of light spread and output as the standard bulb in a can solution traps a significant amount of light. The Cree and Sylvania recessed lamp solutions referenced above have all the LED elements facing outwards so that the effective light output is higher.

The CRI (Color Rendition Index) of Cree and Sylvania recessed lamps > 80.

There is no warm up time required for Cree recessed lamps, unlike CFL light bulbs.

Most recessed lighting is used with flat ceilings. Sloped ceilings would require special solutions such as the LE6 or some other form of lighting (i.e. -non recessed lighting).

Some common objections to recessed can lights stem from
1. looks and performance of traditional can lights (standard bulb in a can)
2. swiss cheese effect from too many holes.


clipped on: 11.05.2012 at 10:58 am    last updated on: 11.05.2012 at 10:58 am

Kerdi Shower Part Deux

posted by: mongoct on 12.17.2009 at 12:22 pm in Bathrooms Forum

Here's Part Deux. The original Kerdi Shower thread lost virtually all of the photo links when the forum they were on changed their software and dumped the links. That forum's administrator doesn't know if they're recoverable, so I did a little editing and here's Part Deux. I may ask Gardenweb to delete the original thread.

This thread is to show a few techniques for working with Kerdi membrane.

Shower is a walk-in, about 5' by 7'. Door is at a 45 degree angle in one of the corners.

Walk in to the shower and on the short wall to the immediate right are two supply valves, the lower one supplies the wall mounted handheld, the upper supplies an overhead 12" rainshower head.

Moving counterclockwise from that wall, the long wall to the left of the valve wall is an exterior wall and will get nothing but tile.

To the left of that long exterior wall is the shower's short back wall, it gets a 2-shelf niche. The niche is about 36" wide and 30" tall. The lower niche space is 15" high, the shelf itself is 4" thick, the upper niche space is 11" high.

To the left of the short niche wall is another long wall, this wall has the wall-mounted hand-held. If I recall, the sliding bar is 40" tall.

In the ceiling is a 12" rain shower head. Also four can lights for illimination and a fan for ventilation. Ceiling will be tiled.

The wall construction? Kerdi is a vapor barrier, so no barrier is needed on these walls. Tile backer? With Kerdi you can use drywall. I prefer cement board on the walls. Wonderboard or Durock. I used Wonderboard on these walls. The ceiling and niche is done in Hardie, which is a fiber-cement board. Hardie is less brittle, so for me it's easier to cut into narrow strips to trim out the niche, and not as prone to snapping when installing full sheets overhead. I work solo 95% of the time, so it's not uncommon to hold the sheet up with one hand and have the screw gun in the other.

ABOVE: Valve wall

ABOVE: Niche wall, and on the left you can see the stub out for the hand held

ABOVE: Shows the Wonderboard walls and the Hardie ceiling.

ABOVE: With Kerdi, you don't have to mesh tape and thinset the seams. You can fill the seams with thinset as you hang the Kerdi on the walls. No need for tape as the Kerdi will bridge the joint for you. Just make sure your walls are smooth. If you have any thinset blots or chunks of cement that mushroomed when you drove a screw, knock them down so the walls are smooth. Here I'm striking a pose with a carborundum stone.

ABOVE: Setting a plumb line to hang the first sheet. Just like hanging wall paper. I hold the first sheet about an inch from the inside corner. Sheet is about 39-1/2" wide. I want the thinset to extend about 1" past the edge of the sheet. So I drop a plumb line about 41-1/2" or so from the inside corner, and mark the line vertically every foot or so with a tick mark using a sharpie.

ABOVE: Thinset. This is a little thicker than I want. I want it stiff enough so I can flat trowel it on the wall without it dripping all over or running down the wall, as well as it being able to hold a ridge after it's combed out. Not too stiff, though as you don't want it skinning over before you hang the sheet.


clipped on: 10.26.2012 at 09:56 pm    last updated on: 10.26.2012 at 09:56 pm

RE: Looking into dehumidifier - what are the considerations? (Follow-Up #25)

posted by: energy_rater_la on 10.17.2012 at 06:27 pm in Heating & Air Conditioning Forum

dedicated *12x12" filter back grill & filter
located under porch, patio or in soffits
with easy access (to change filter)
not north facing or by area where barbecue smoke
will enter.
*duct size to be determined by amount of fresh air
needed..6-8" flex duct
barometric damper *setting determined by
amount of fresh air needed (*blower door test
results converted into achnatural & ashrae 62.2
damper installed in flex line connected to
return air plenum

fresh air. filtered. measured. dehumidified
before entering living space.

say two bath fans going & stove vent.
barometric damper (like skuttle 216)
opens full amount needed* as fans
shut off, damper adjusts to lesser
need for fresh air.

damper can be set to allow set amount
of fresh air entering at all times
or just when house enters negative

costs approx
filter back grill & filter 50-75
duct 25-30
damper 150-200
mastic to seal everything up 15

cost by hvac co to install 200-300

stand alone dehumidifier energy star size dependent
upon floor plan. and size of house 200o sq ft per dehumidifier. home depot lowes...200 & higher

can locate inside utility room with
dedicated drain.
or if r/a is chase style and big
enough locate inside r/a and tie into
drain for hvac if possible.

hows that sound?


Cheap Air Exchange & Dehumidifier solution
clipped on: 10.17.2012 at 11:12 pm    last updated on: 10.17.2012 at 11:13 pm

RE: Help me find a new hood please (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: colin3 on 05.06.2012 at 09:27 pm in Appliances Forum

Thanks - Other folks know way more than I do, especially about different brands, but these were some of the common questions that come up in these discussions.

It's definitely worth getting out in front on the ducting -- there's a steady trickle of posts on this forum from people finding out too late that they don't have enough diameter.

As Kaseki has explained at length elsewhere, kitchen ventilation must solve two problems: (1) capturing the effluent (hot air, smoke, steam, airborne grease etc.) as it rises off the stove top (2) sucking it out.

(1) you solve with a canopy that overlaps the cooktop enough to trap the rising effluent column, and it's great news that your range is against a wall, 'cause island hoods have to deal with cross-drafts. Ideally you want the canopy to overlap the cooktop by at least four inches, so you are looking for 56-60" wide, and somewhere around 28" deep -- search on "bump out" for more on getting depth.

(2) you solve with a blower with enough cfm that the effluent doesn't spill back out of the canopy after rising into it. Although the Design Guide that Kaseki linked is aimed at pro gear, the basic issues are the same.

Once you've separated the functions into (1) and (2) you will notice that you can buy different things to address them. (1) is just a metal shell. You can often get bargains used -- I got a 54" hood for $400 from a building salvage store. Check out Craigslist. (2) is a blower, and it does not have to be in the hood -- you can use an "inline" blower anywhere in the ducting, or an external blower where the duct meets the great outdoors. I use an Abbaka blower. Moving the blower away from the hood cuts reduces noise.

MUA: Imagine an airtight box. Add a single hole and try to suck air out through it. Not much will happen, right? To draw a steady flow of air out you have to replace it from somewhere. The kitchens most of us grew up in had low-BTU stoves and small blowers, like 200 cfm. But 1000 cfm ... for a typical kitchen that's all the air in the room, every couple of minutes. Two things follow (a) without adequate MUA you won't get enough cfm through your hood and/or (b) if you are not getting the MUA harmlessly, the blower may pull air down your chimney while there's a fire burning, back-draft a gas hot-water heater, or other dangerous things. It's for this reason that a lot of localities now require MUA if your blower is rated over 400 cfm. The actual needs depend on how your place is built. If you live in the tropics and have windows open year-round, you don't need it. If you have one of those new energy-efficient houses so tightly sealed that not a molecule of gas gets in unbidden, you very definitely need MUA. In any case, this is why HVAC people make the big bucks.


Good explanation of what hood must do
clipped on: 10.15.2012 at 02:28 pm    last updated on: 10.15.2012 at 02:29 pm

RE: Inspection pains around make up air and my new cc (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: kaseki on 05.14.2012 at 03:21 pm in Appliances Forum

The issue is very complex, and since the AHJs aren't engineers in all of the respective areas they have to work in, they tend to be conservative -- that is, get someone else to take responsibility.

The last sentence in the previous message above can't be answered in general. If a house had no combustion appliances (other than the stove), then no matter how tight it was, there would be no hazard from lack of MUA. There wouldn't be much ventilation air flow either, if very tight, but that is a different issue.

What MUA does is keep the house pressure close to that of the outside, which is important so that combustion appliances such as furnaces, hot water heaters, gas dryers, fireplaces, etc. are not backdrafted. A second, but also substantial purpose is to allow the ventilation hood to have a flow rate not restricted by house pressure.

Often there are one or more combustion appliances, and it is important that the house pressure not become negative enough to backflow any of them. This means that the differential air pressure may have to be limited to no more than 0.03 inches of water column.

The MUA path has restrictions that will cause pressure loss, so in many cases an MUA blower is needed to boost the flow. This boost may need control itself, further complicating the air flow into and out of the house.

If the MUA is well balanced, pressure-wise, then it won't affect the air conditioning. But, (!) it is a system that bypasses the air conditioning, and may require heating, cooling, and filtering depending on the needs of the household. If one were to demonstrate that the MUA keeps the house pressure close to ambient for various hood flow rates, then I would hope an inspector would understand that the air conditioning would not be impaired, although its purpose might be partially defeated by cold or warm air being directly dumped into the kitchen.

Ideally, say in a large office building, all the MUA flows into the air conditioning/heating system circuit, so no additional drafts are created. In a commercial kitchen, the MUA is dumped into the kitchen area, and heating and cooling are sized to deal with the flow rate. In a house with existing a/c and heating, the flow in the a/c is not large enough to keep up with the kitchen hood blower, so the separate MUA circuit is added, but only run during periods of serious cooking.

Generally, the heating rates that a furnace can supply via room registers or hydronic heaters are inadequate to deal with high flow rates pulled through windows or an MUA duct in the winter, so additional heating of the MUA is required. (A high BTU oil furnace might be an exception so long as it had a separate loop to a heat exchanger in the MUA path. Commercial MUA will typically use electric coils or gas heat for heating.)



clipped on: 10.12.2012 at 11:57 am    last updated on: 10.12.2012 at 11:58 am

RE: Passive Makeup Air (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: SeaKoz on 05.31.2012 at 01:14 pm in Appliances Forum

Hi MJOcean,

Wolf's solution was to use _their_ passive air damper. Wait, you didn't know they sell one? Neither did I. They don't advertise it on their website!

It's part # 820071. They sent me the installation manual, I've uploaded it to filebin so you can grab it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Installation Manual


clipped on: 10.12.2012 at 11:45 am    last updated on: 10.12.2012 at 11:46 am

RE: tankless hot water (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: beth4 on 06.11.2011 at 07:30 pm in Plumbing Forum

I just went through the decision process of whether to replace my hot water heater with a tankless water heater. For a variety of reasons, I chose to replace with a Navien. I did this a month ago and, so far, I'm pleased with the results. Since the swap-out, I've entertained a lot, have had house guests consisting of a family of 4 (2 teenaged girls), have done loads of wash and dishwasher runnings, and everything has worked well. I've noticed that hot water reaches my end faucet more quickly with the tankless than the traditional hot water heater and attribute that to the recirculating pump my model of Navien has, that eliminates the cold water "sandwich", and gets the hot water to the destination more quickly. I also seem to have hot water at the kitchen sink more readily now, than I did with the traditional tank.

After installing the Navien, I discovered this blog. I found it interesting and helpful, so am offering it here for your continued collection of information and research.

I've concluded this is such a personal decision, based upon how one uses water, how frequently during the day, etc., that it's difficult for most people to give others a generic recommendation. Good luck with your research and your decision.

Here is a link that might be useful: Blog of a Navien Tankless Owner living in Canada


clipped on: 10.11.2012 at 05:11 pm    last updated on: 10.12.2012 at 09:23 am

Please help me find a vanity

posted by: wendy002 on 06.15.2012 at 10:09 pm in Bathrooms Forum

Can anyone help me find a vanity similar to this one? I have seen it online at Home Depot and at Home Decorators, but it is not available at either place right now. My contractor is working on my bathroom now and I don't want to have it finished except the vanity!

Thank you!


Magick Woods Sonata
clipped on: 10.09.2012 at 01:28 pm    last updated on: 10.09.2012 at 01:28 pm

Audio visual wiring - RF Remote, HELP!!

posted by: dpusa on 10.03.2012 at 08:29 pm in Building a Home Forum

Hey all

We would like surround sound in our great room, however there is no 'real' place to put the DirecTV box, home theater box etc so our builder suggested running the wires to the coat closet using in-wall conduit. We would have to run HDMI, and speaker wire and there would be Power switches for the TV above the fireplace where the TV would go. Has anyone done this and thoughts if RF remotes work well or not? Suggestions?



clipped on: 10.04.2012 at 11:30 pm    last updated on: 10.04.2012 at 11:30 pm

This whole experience - WHEW!!

posted by: wwwonderwhiskers on 08.29.2011 at 01:26 pm in Building a Home Forum

We were VERY prepared with everything.

My BIGGEST disappointment has been in Humans and Companies.

The ONLY companies we have not had to do Mortal Combat with have been:
- the delightful Lighting supplier in Chantilly - Dominion Electric;
- the delightful site-finished flooring folks in Woodbridge - Vanover's;
- the rock-star Granite folks in Ashburn - Dominion Granite & Marble.
- the fabulous stonemasons - Greco Masonry.

EVERYBODY ELSE we have had to second guess, third guess, hold their hand, argue with, and repeatedly send the information OVER and OVER and OVER again. Their work has been faulty, broken, leaking, incorrectly installed, incorrectly ordered, the wrong piece, the wrong color, the wrong ROOM, the wrong location, or they have destroyed their OWN work while installing, or destroyed their adjoining work while installing. Or my favorite "oh, uh, we didn't realize that was a "custom" (fill-in-the-blank), so it cannot be ordered within the timeline. Was there anything else that you wanted?" YES - FOR YOU TO GROW A BRAIN!!! ARE WE YOUR FIRST CUSTOMER??? That delightful happenstance was with ABW - Appliance Builder's Warehouse in Ashburn, VA. Thank HEAVENS their "rep" left for another job - but only after spacing out our oven order (which - if people had talked - we would have had PLENTY of time to get the correct color). The other was with the builder - "yes, we can get white oak".... wait, wait, wait, don't order yet, wait wait wait, go on vacation, wait wait.... oh sorry, white oak is a custom order which we don't have time for now - would you like Red oak??" NO!! I wanted white!!! And since there has been further delays, if you had ordered the white oak when you found out that it was a custom order, rather than tap dancing for two weeks, WE COULD HAVE HAD IT BY NOW!

I just assumed that most people had some reasonable intelligence with most things. I am wholeheartedly disappointed. This entire process has taken me to places that I do NOT want to go within myself - and I was prepared!!! Maybe I assumed that "be prepared" meant "know what you want to go where & when". Guess I didn't realize that "be prepared" meant 'be prepared to deal with complete morons and idiots who are in Sales, Rep, and VP positions. And I've heard that people who make this craft their living are not rocket scientists, but holy Heavens - do they know how to tie their own shoes????? These people are funding college educations in Ivy League schools and have beach houses - and you cannot Answer a simple question or explain your quote? Not just one - but ALL OF YOU.

Now the Propane Mafia in Northern VA is up to bat - not only were they total Mafioso in their dealings, but now they install a leaky regulator? If you give us one iota of grief, or try to bill us for an emergency call (when we have not even moved IN yet) I will come visit you in person - my husband is MUCH nicer. And who was the idiot who put a NG regulator on the line joining the Propane tank to the generator??? There are 7 other homes in the neighborhood, and we are MILES away from any NG pipes - were we your first house Sweetheart??

All this compounded by a builder's biz mgr to whom we have had to explain what the word "communicate" means. And his father - The Builder - is a magnificent framer, who does not know enough to surround himself with quality Teams, then nurture them to Success, but surrounds himself with people who make him feel smart, whome he can berate, and who deal with his yelling at them all the time. And who DOES NOT understand yet the fine line between:
1.) I am building a high end Spec home, so I can put anything I want in it, and wow - lookie lookie - I already have a buyer!! and
2.) I am building YOUR custom high end home. I will do ANYTHING you want in that home (as long as you pay), no matter what my opinion of it is, or how stupid I think it is - if YOU want it, I will do it.

BIG difference those two.

And while I have been typing this for your entertainment or information, I have seen an email from the banker, that the builder's biz mgr has not yet gotten back with her on something - so AGAIN he is not communicating.

Freaking unbelieveable....... I gotta go pack.


clipped on: 10.04.2012 at 11:08 am    last updated on: 10.04.2012 at 11:08 am

Restoration Hardware at a Discount??

posted by: pooky on 12.06.2005 at 04:04 am in Furniture Forum

I love the furniture from RH but it is way out of my price range. Does anyone know where I can find a good deal on their pieces? I'm looking for a living room set...I love the Lancaster pieces they offer


clipped on: 09.26.2012 at 01:54 pm    last updated on: 09.26.2012 at 01:54 pm

RE: Renovation Hardware Questions (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: Kristen123 on 09.19.2012 at 05:01 pm in Bathrooms Forum

I have heard some complaints about RH vanities and their prices are very high compared to prices you can find online for other brands of all-wood solidly constructed vanities with carerra marble tops. If you have simply fallen in love with one of the RH vanity styles, take a look at the link below to see if someone else makes a similar vanity for less. I have seen some great imitations online with great customer reviews.

Here is a link that might be useful: Restoration Hardwre Vanities for Less


clipped on: 09.20.2012 at 12:33 pm    last updated on: 09.20.2012 at 12:33 pm

Plantation Shutters or traditional shutters?

posted by: kelntx on 11.11.2007 at 08:42 am in Building a Home Forum

I am thinking about window treatments and I have always wanted plantation shutters but once I started to research I discovered there are plantation shutters and traditional shutters. I am not sure I like the smaller panels on the traditional shutters. Did anyone put shutters in their house plantation or traditional? I would love to see pictures! I could just wait to see if one of my sisters puts them in their house! Anything I mention they seem to run out and get it first. I was looking at wood floors one day, two sisters went out and got wood floors, I was painting my colors on sample boards and my one sister painted her bathrooms the next day the same color my bathrooms are and now my other sister is going to use my colors in her living room. One asked me yesterday what window treatments I was going to use. When I said I was going with plantation shutters she said she felt like going and buying them. WHY? At first I thought it was a nice, a nice compliment about my choices but now it is getting on my nerves. LOL! Thank God they didn't see my cabinets. They would have ripped theirs out and put in knotty alder!

Anyway, before I have to see them in my sisters house if anyone has put them in I would really love to see them!



clipped on: 09.18.2012 at 10:16 pm    last updated on: 09.18.2012 at 10:16 pm

RE: Raise whole bathroom floor for curbless shower??? (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: suero on 02.28.2012 at 02:28 pm in Bathrooms Forum

Check this out

Here is a link that might be useful: Curbless showers installation guide


clipped on: 09.13.2012 at 03:51 pm    last updated on: 09.13.2012 at 03:51 pm

water filtration suggestions needed

posted by: drbouba on 09.10.2012 at 11:31 pm in Appliances Forum

We are thinking of installing an under-sink water filter but have no idea what do use. Can anyone offer suggestions? My main concerns are not losing water pressure and ease of maintenance.


clipped on: 09.12.2012 at 12:50 pm    last updated on: 09.12.2012 at 12:50 pm

Pros vs. Cons buying plumbing fixtures on-line?

posted by: pbx2 on 09.10.2012 at 11:17 am in Building a Home Forum

So I've read some past discussions on here @ but I'd like to relight the fire a bit since we are @ this moment in our build phase.

Our local F..son's is providing some discussion points in its argument against buying plumbing parts to our builder.
Our contract with our builder does not prevent us from supplying our own parts as part of the allowance; builder has only stated that he uses F..son for ease of communication should issues arise during construction but that's it.

So F..son's arguments are:

1) Missing parts in delivery
2) Owner fails to order special parts required for installation
3) Plumber needs to make additional trips if parts are incompatible from outset.
4) F..son's has special "wholesale quality trades fit only" parts & fixtures
5) As part of builder's 1 year home warranty, builder will have to chase down missing parts which may not be same# as trades or mass vendors.

In our own situation, we spent a couple of hours w/ the F..son's designer & they essentially showed us around the store & we picked what was shown on the floor - without really sitting down for hours pouring over their different catalogs.
Some picks turned out to be the same as another of our builder's houses in this development. (not very custom if you ask me)

Ultimately, after compiling a workbook & discovering what our style really was, we were able to nail down on our choices on our own & submitted a list to F..son's for a quote.

F..son's ended up costing $1500 more & they have supposedly access to every single one on our list from their inventory.

Now, we'd rather buy local to support our economy here but @ $1500, we could also buy a home warranty to eliminate all the issues that arises out of the list above.

So, we would appreciate any debate points from the community to educate & highlight for us any PRO's & CONS because right now, with the amount of prep hours that we have poured into our research on the fixtures parts & their compatibility & knowing far more now (help from you all here btw!) than going in - I can say with confidence that:

1) There is no magical parts that a good plumber has, that can only fit F..son's bought fixtures.
2) That a good plumber is able to problem solve any component issue esp. if he's not selling the fixtures & is only fitting it to the water line
3) That the good builder/contractor/construction/inspector team we have assemble will resolve any assembly issue of our on-line components without being a $1500 or more additional cost or cause delays due to parts issues.
4) the F..son's is not selling anything of quality difference than what we are able to get from sites or other reputable vendors.
5) There is no guarantee that F..son's can resolve any parts compatibility issue themselves as quickly as a reputable on-line vendor.


clipped on: 09.11.2012 at 01:07 pm    last updated on: 09.11.2012 at 01:07 pm

Negotiating with Contractors

posted by: myhappyspace on 09.06.2012 at 02:59 pm in Building a Home Forum

Fist of all, I HATE negotiating. It always makes me so uncomfortable and awkward. We're just getting our bids back and going through them. How do you go about negotiating with yours to get them lowered?


clipped on: 09.07.2012 at 11:00 am    last updated on: 09.07.2012 at 11:00 am

FYI - my makeup air solution

posted by: fouramblues on 09.05.2012 at 10:15 am in Appliances Forum

The code for makeup air is not enforced where I live, but I wanted some sort of makeup air for peace of mind. We just couldn't/wouldn't pay for conditioned makeup air. So I lurked around here and some builder forums for any info I could find. This is what I came up with:


(A very quiet 500 CFM duct booster fan controlled by a switch under the cabinet next to the range)


(A motorized damper controlled by same switch)

The ducting is all in the ceiling. The intake is the proper distance from the hood exhaust, and the ducting terminates with an unobtrusive vent cover about 5' from the range. Sure, it doesn't turn on automatically when the hood goes on, but I use it only when the hood is on high.

So that's my $166 solution to the makeup air problem (not including the contractor's time to install the stuff). So far so good!


clipped on: 09.05.2012 at 11:09 am    last updated on: 09.05.2012 at 11:09 am

RE: Interior shower plumbing located on an outside wall (Follow-Up #21)

posted by: pbx2 on 08.13.2012 at 02:29 pm in Building a Home Forum

Digging up the dead here but we want to have wall mounted faucets in our new build's master bathroom.

The wall is an exterior facing wall.

Our builder says he will need to 'furr' out the wall.
I googled it but couldn't get the an answer that I could understand.

But does furring out a wall means adding another wall in front of the exterior wall (really towards the inside of the house)?
Does it mean adding insulation to the front of the exterior wall & then building another wall in front of that?


wall mounted
clipped on: 09.05.2012 at 09:50 am    last updated on: 09.05.2012 at 09:51 am

RE: Places to buy nice furniture? (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: CharlotteHome on 08.13.2012 at 02:40 pm in Furniture Forum

Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel can end up costing more and getting to a lot less value than asking for some help. I am designer in VA so perhaps I am biased.

Check out these higher end (but not more expensive manufacturers): CR Laine Upholstery, Furniture Noir(Super traditional but eclectic), Stanley Coastal Resort, Redford House, Thibaut Furniture, and the list goes on and on. Big local stores tend to carry a lot of the massive brands and those are not always good value since a lot of them are made cheaply. And, when they carry the specialty brands the mark-ups have to cover a lot of store operating costs.

One of the most affordable ways to buy furniture is to hire a designer to make you a virtual room board for you with lots of furniture choices/price points (Designer often waive board fees if you buy through them). Trade people have access to all sorts of furniture you've never ever seen and they generally can pass on prices below what you pay in most retail stores with big overheads. So, you typically save money this way and end up with higher quality and more interesting furniture. Also, a lot of the ideas they will give you will have shopping links for ballard or pottery barn etc.


clipped on: 08.26.2012 at 05:14 pm    last updated on: 08.26.2012 at 05:14 pm

Best websites for find deals while building your home?

posted by: Laura12 on 08.22.2012 at 01:19 pm in Building a Home Forum

Does anyone have any websites they used to buy items for their home they would like to recommend?

I am looking for EVERYTHING, bathtubs, sinks, cabinets (probably get that one locally), fixtures, hardware, windows, doors, flooring, lighting and anything else that I could possible get a deal on!

We don't actually start building until December, however I'm 7 months pregnant, so I'm trying to come up with a list of resources and ideas now so that I'm not searching around for all of this with a newborn on my lap! ;)


clipped on: 08.22.2012 at 03:47 pm    last updated on: 08.22.2012 at 03:47 pm

1 Larger or 2 Smaller Water Heaters

posted by: MichelleDT on 04.15.2012 at 07:55 pm in Plumbing Forum

I am new to the plumbing forum and looking for guidance on water heater options. We are building a new home and I am not sure what direction to go for hot water. There are two us who take showers in the AM (one after the other) and there will be a deep soaking tub (more than 50 gallons) that will be used frequently. In our current home, we have a 50 gallon heater and one of us ends up with a shorter shower to avoid lukewarm/cold water. I can't fill the tub without running out of hot water.

I want to avoid this in the new house and the builder is suggesting two 50 gallon water heaters rather than one larger heater.

What is the best way to go? Is one option less expensive/better than the other?

I mentioned a tankless system for the Master bath but the builder looked at me like a deer caught in headlights. His standard according to him is 2 50 gallon tanks and he has never had a client request a tankless or anything other than 2 50's or so he says.

Thanks for the guidance.



clipped on: 08.21.2012 at 04:06 pm    last updated on: 08.21.2012 at 04:06 pm

RE: 1 Larger or 2 Smaller Water Heaters (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: jakethewonderdog on 04.16.2012 at 09:39 am in Plumbing Forum


We do need to know gas, electric, propane as well as how many people in the house.

As someone who DOES have a gas tankless for the last 5 years, I would say that you should check it out. You are a prime candidate (continuous hot water is important, new construction). The only down side is that your contractor isn't familiar with it.

Note: I would only ever recommend gas tankless - not electric- for whole house hot water.

Something you should consider is how far the hot water heater is from the point of use. Contractors continue to put the water heater in the garage and then it takes forever to get to the master bath at the other end of the house. Don't let that happen. Also make sure that the hot water lines are insulated. Can't tell you how many times people on this forum have said the pipes are in the slab and uninsulated - they lose all of the heat to the slab before it gets to the faucet.

Water softeners aren't a bad thing, but I think Ozone89 is overplaying his hand on that issue. I've looked at the warranty and maintenance instructions, as well as the install instructions, for a couple of tankless heaters and none of them required or recommended a water softener. That said, your water quality may vary.

No water heater is maintenance free - we deal with limed up tank water heaters on this board all the time. With a tankless you can (and should) clean them with vinegar. You can't do that with a regular tank heater.


clipped on: 08.21.2012 at 03:37 pm    last updated on: 08.21.2012 at 03:37 pm

RE: It's August 2012 - How's Your Build Progressing? (Follow-Up #41)

posted by: Andi_K on 08.15.2012 at 08:29 am in Building a Home Forum

pbx2 - we went with the Best CP37I482SB hood/blower. My builder took the dimensions of it and had the trim carpenter frame for the hood to be inserted up & inside what you see in this pic. They just built it onsite using 2x4s and wood panels. Here's the first pic...


Then, they wrapped the top part with the crown molding...


To finish it, we put stucco on the panels.....


And, the bottom white trim you see in the pic above will actually be covered up with reclaimed wood. Total cost - $350...including the reclaimied wood which was $125 of the $350! Much cheaper then cabinetry and it fits our home style it was a steal imo.

fyi...they also built it so that the hood was attached to this panel that slid right up underneath. So that if I ever need to get to the hood or replace it, the entire hood cover doesn't get destroyed.

Let me know if you have any other questions.


clipped on: 08.16.2012 at 12:21 pm    last updated on: 08.16.2012 at 12:21 pm

RE: Security system cost (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: Xclusive on 08.16.2012 at 12:18 am in Building a Home Forum

We had our house pre-wired for an alarm. The pre-wire basically covered a 14in can, 2 keypads, up to 5 door sensors, a motion detector and a siren. Basic pre-wire install was $490.

As far as the other suggestions on wiring windows and such, I think its easier said than done. Now a days most companies don't want to wire windows as they don't want to be responsible for voiding the warranty on the window. Our builder did not even offer this as an option for that reason. I would also suggest to throw in a wired smoke detector on each floor as it should help lower your homeowners insurance on top of having the alarm as well.

You do have the option of putting in the alarm after the build which will be more expensive because you will be going wireless vs wired. They do offer wireless window sensors and YES you guessed it, they are expensive compared to wired. I won't even get into that debate of wireless vs wired but my thought is if I can have something hardwired & for less money, I will always take the hardwired route.

Deciding on which alarm to purchase after the pre-wire will basically depend on your needs and what you want it to control. Once we move in I am looking for a system that will do security as well as home automation so I am going to purchase an ELK M1 gold system. Elk and HAI offer the option of professional installers and also are DIY friendly companies that will offer support as well. There are other security/home automation systems which are more dealer oriented such crestron, contrl 4, savant, etc but it just all depends on what your budget is and what you would like to spend. If you just need secuirty you could always pay an ADT or said company that will come in and give you the system for free but then you are stuck with their monitoring system contract and high monthly fee as well. I chose to pay for my system up front which will probaly be about $650 or so to start and I can add to my system (lighting, audio/video, HVAC, sprinklers, blinds, etc)when I choose and can be controlled from any computer or my phone. I also like the fact I can select my own monitoring service. We have a company here that will monitor your system monthly for $9.95 month.

Hope that helps!

Here is a link that might be useful: Elk Products


clipped on: 08.16.2012 at 12:00 pm    last updated on: 08.16.2012 at 12:00 pm

Semi-modern bathroom.. Tile is almost finished!!! Beautiful!!!

posted by: staceyneil on 12.17.2009 at 07:57 am in Bathrooms Forum

Our bathroom tile is almost finished!!! Bill is coming back today to finish grouting the floor, marble niches and shower floor, and curb, and grout the corners. It has been amazing to watch the transformation.

It's also been a difficult job. Bill has masterfully bent the will of the unruly glass tile to make it look perfect and beautiful. I NEVER could have done this myself -at least not to anywhere near the degree Bill did. I would have been in tears by day one, and it never would have looked the way I envisioned it. Bill's been wonderful... professional, respectful of our home, and very, very good at tiling! I know it was not a pleasant job.... I can now see how it must be so much easier working with larger format ceramic tile than these little glass buggers--- I will know NEXT TIME. But---- we're soooooo happy with how it turned out :)

The vanity is mahogany, toilet is Toto, faucets are Kohler Purist and Jado IQ... it's pretty modern but is within a cottage-y house, so we wanted it a little softer than a strictly "modern" bath.

Here are some almost-done pics..... I will post more when it's finished, and when the vanity and fixtures are in:

Here's the bathtub to the right-

and the tub niche (ungrouted) (floor will have light-colored grout)

Here's looking to the left, the toilet area and shower (will have a glass door and wall)

and shower niche area and windows (needs grout in the dark areas...)


clipped on: 08.14.2012 at 04:35 pm    last updated on: 08.14.2012 at 04:35 pm

Semi-modern bathroom: Progress Photos, tub install onward...

posted by: staceyneil on 01.04.2010 at 08:09 am in Bathrooms Forum

I had another thread on this but wanted to post some photos here to make it easier if anyone wants, for instance, to see photos of a drop-in tub installation.

The previous thread is here:

This last weekend, we installed and painted all the trim (we routed a radius on the outside edge to match the existing old-house trim).

We installed the Toto Aquia III toilet. This took about 6 hours, a LOT longer than the half-dozen other "normal" toilets we've installed in wood floors. Toto requires 4 mounting holes drilled, and our floors are porcelain tile, which is unbelievably hard. Even using our new hammer drill, we went through SIX diamond bits and two solid hours of drilling. Ugh. But the toilet is a thing of beauty!

Then we installed the Kohler Archer drop-in bathtub. We had been procrastinating this as we knew it was going to be stressful and difficult. This tub has leveling feet, but the best way to install it for a solid feel is still to use a mortar bed. yet you still need to make sure it's sitting level on it's feet, too. Well, our tub deck is tiled all around, and the only access to underneath is at the plumbing end. So it was a day of trial-and-error getting it level. The subfloor underneath was not level. So we had to lift it in and out, in and out, each time planing down the wood pads we'd installed under the foot locations, then testing the level, than adjusting it again. The tile on the tub deck also had some high spots to accomodate for, so it was tricky. When we got it as good as it was going to get (there's still going to have to be a caulk line at places 3/16th thick, but oh, well...) I next suited up for my least favorite DIY job: insulation. The tub's on two exterior walls and we wanted to give ourselves as much insulation as possible. I also cut plastic sheeting around the foot blocks, so the mortar bed wouldn't seep into the wood subfloor. Next we mixed up mortar-mix and laid it in, then covered the mortar with another layer of plastic, added some construction adhesive to the foot pads, and carefully lowered the tub in and pressed it down till its feet touched the pads.

Here's looking from the master bedroom through the hall (small walk-in-closets either side) to the bathroom, during the projects this weekend. I was soooooo glad to clean up all those piles and tools on Sunday night, after literally months of having them there!

Here's the wall cabinet that will be installed over the toilet. It is mahogany and won't have any knobs, it opens by reaching under the door at the bottom (finger recess). The vanity is the same mahogany, with a mahogany top and semi-recessed white porcelain rectangular sinks.

And here's the installed tub and trimmed out window:

Next up:
-shower glass install
-vanity/cabinetry install

Here is a link that might be useful: Previous thread on this project, tile installation, etc.


clipped on: 08.14.2012 at 04:32 pm    last updated on: 08.14.2012 at 04:32 pm

Semi-modern bathroom photo update...

posted by: staceyneil on 01.18.2010 at 09:46 am in Bathrooms Forum

This weekend we set out to install our shower glass. It was nerve-wracking dealing with the big, heavy, expensive glass slabs! We got the fixed panel in place, and then realized that the glass manufacturer had sent the wrong hinges for the door :( So we're doorless for now...

We also installed the vanity, sinks, and plumbing. We had the basic case built for us, and we made the countertop ourselves. The legs are from Ikea. The sinks are from eBay, knock-offs of expensive Ronbow sinks. The faucets are Kohler Purist. We plumbed all the plumbing (supply and traps) in a 4" space along the wall, so there only needs to be a shallow U-shaped cut-out in the back of the drawer to accomodate the shallow drain pipe.)

The drawer pulls are not installed yet (they'll be George-Nelson-like slim edge pulls on the top edge, about 1.5" wide.) and the mirror is not up yet. DH is making the mahogany frame for that this week. I also need to find a good fabric for the window, and install the door.

Looking from the master bedroom through the hall with the two small walk-in closets on either side:

The tub and niche (faucets areJado IQ) and curious kitten (she loves the heated floor!)

Vanity, shower (minus door) and Toto Aquia toilet

From the shower:



clipped on: 08.14.2012 at 03:56 pm    last updated on: 08.14.2012 at 03:56 pm

DIY budget elegant bathroom, almost done: pics...

posted by: staceyneil on 02.02.2011 at 10:11 am in Bathrooms Forum

Hi everyone,

Thanks for all your support and advice along the way with our latest project... we're ALMOST done but sort of stalled. We just need to add the door threshold and some pretty natural wood shelves above the toilet, but DH has moved on to other woodworking projects, so those little projects have been shoved down the list of priorities. Since it may be months before I get those shelves (and art/decor) up, I thought I'd at least post some pics of the room as it is now. Forgive the crappy lighting: it's snowing hard so there's no natural light :(

Project scope:
1956 bathroom with 1980's/90's tile, vanity, toilet. Tub was original but sadly unsalvageable: the enale was totally wrecked and stained and impossible to clean.
Suspected some subfloor issues due to leaks.
Budget: $2,500. (final total was a bit under $3,000... so we didn't do too badly :))

The layout was awkward, the door swing used so much of the floor space and only allowed a very small vanity. Since this is the hall/guest bath as well as the primary bath for my teenage daughter, we really needed to maximize storage and vanity space. I drew a new plan which involved moving the doorway to the perpendicular wall. As much as my DH balked at adding additional work, he admitted it was TOTALLY the right thing to do once we finished. The room feels SO much bigger now.

OLD BATHROOM and layout:

Some photos from during the renovation... which was planned to take 4 weekends and ended up taking about 6 or 7.....
DD sledge-hammering the old tile down

lots of rot in the subfloor

Self-leveling-compound poured over the radiant floor heat cables in the floor

The shower area waterproofed with Hydroban (LOVE LOVE LOVE that stuff!)

~ ~
~ ~
~ ~
~ ~

NEW BATHROOM and layout plan:

Since our budget was soooo tight, and we wanted to use quality materials and get a unique, custom bathroom, we had to get creative!!!

I had a small amount (it was mostly random pieces and offcuts) of very $$$ calacatta marble mosaic tiles left over from a previous project that I knew I wanted to use. The other materials were chosen around that starting point. I designed niches to use that tile in, as accent, based on the quantity I had. I used inexpensive white marble baseboard pieces from Home Depot for the shelves.

For the rest of the tile, I needed to use super-cheap stuff (the entire room is tiled to chair-rail height), but I didn't want it to look cheap or ubiquitous. I would have used subways, but DD emphatically vetoed them. It's her bathroom, and we let her have a LOT of design input. Since we have other areas in the house that use square tile in a running-bond pattern, I decided to use 4x4s, which are the cheapest anyway, but in a running bond rather than stacked pattern. After bringing home samples of the big-box cheapies, I decided to "splurge" (20 cents more per tile, I think, it was about $2.35 per sf after sales and discounts)) on Lowes next-step-up American Olean Ice White, which has a slight rippled surface that catches the light and adds a layer of interest that the flat, cheaper Gloss White doesn't have.

For the floor, we used American Olean 12 x 18 Pietra Bianco, a limestone-look ceramic tile that I'm surprisingly happy with :) Underneath the tile is radiant-heat cable, so the floor is wonderfully cozy and warm.

Floor grout is Latapoxy epoxy.
Wall/shower grout is Tec Accucolor XT, a super-modified grout that supposed to be a lot more stain-resistant (PITA to work with, though!)

DD wanted girly, vintage-looking stuff, a big departure from DH and my modern aesthetic. We narrowed down the style range, then I started watching eBay for deals. We scored about $750 worth of valves and faucets and stuff for about $275.
Vanity faucet: Moen Monticello
Shower faucet valve, trim, tub spout: Moen Monticello with Thermostatic valve
Shower head: Grohe Relexa Ultra on slide bar (LOVE!)
(after working with a bunch of faucets recently, I can say that the Moen monticello stuff is pretty cruddy compared to the Grohe RElexa, Kohler Purist, and HansGrohe stuff I've used recently.)
Towel bars and tissue holder are Ginger Hotelier.
Curved shower rod is the Crescent Rod. I tried some expandable ones they had locally, but this one (ordered on line for the same price) is SO much sturdier and nicer-looking. It also makes the shower space much larger.

Toto Carolina that we got at a yard sale for $150 including the Washlet seat (which we removed). We were driving down the street and DD -who professes to HATE anything renovation-related- said, "Hey, look, Mom... isn;t that one of those skirted toilets you like?" SCORE.

American Standard Princeton ~$300 at Lowes. yeah, we chipped it right away by dropping a tool on it while installing the faucets; luckily there's a repair kit that actually does a pretty amazing job :) We used the American Standard "Deep Soak" drain, which adds a couple inches water depth for baths. I wanted DD to use her OWN bathtub rather than my new one in the master bath :)

an old dresser. We bought it on Craigslist for $40, and DH reworked the drawers to fit the plumbing. He also added modern drawer slides so that they work easily. We bought fabulous vintage glass knobs on eBay (if you're looking for vintage knobs, check out this seller: billybobbosen.)

I painted it BM Dove Wing.
We totally went over budget on the vanity top. I'd intended to bet a remnant of granite... but of course couldn't find one DD and I liked. Then we found this little slab of Vermont White quartzite in the "exotics" bone pile at a local yard. It was over budget but we loved it. Then, of course, we decided that rather than a plain square front, it had to be cut to fit the curvy front of the dresser... which added about $100. So the vanity top was our biggest expense at $480.

Medicine cabinet:
A salvaged cabinet we got at the local Habitat for Humanity REStore about 2 years ago. We framed it into the wall (where the old door used to be), painted it, and I tiled the little shelf area with my calacatta mosaic accent tiles and marble baseboard pieces from Home Depot.

Pottery Barn wall fixture from eBay
Ikea ceiling fixture (like $8 each and rated for bathrooms!)
Fan/showerlight combo is a recessed, can-style fixture by Broan/NuTone. It's AWESOME. Quiet, unobtrusive.

That's all I can think of right now. I think once we have the natural wood shelves up over the toilet, with DD's shell collection and a plant on them, it will give a little but of softness/naturalness which the room needs. It's a little TOO "elegant" right now :)


clipped on: 08.14.2012 at 01:33 pm    last updated on: 08.14.2012 at 01:33 pm

Preventative Measures - A Success Story

posted by: wwwonderwhiskers on 08.21.2011 at 01:19 pm in Building a Home Forum

Or you can call this "Leaving a breadcrumb trail". This is a story of Documentation.

This is intended for the individual who is embarking on the Building A Home process, and who has NEVER thought to do this. The following is an EXCELLENT example of why you may want to consider doing this. Hopefully others with similar experience will chime in, and perhaps even fine tune or add to this process. Do not expect it to be pretty, and it does not need to be perfect, but it DOES really need to be done!!

The topic here is "DOCUMENT: Take Pictures Of your Walls, Ceilings, Floors, and etc., Capturing The Location of Pipes, Wires, and Whatever - BEFORE the Drywall Goes Up.

And KNOW THIS - while you are taking the pictures, you actually know where you are at the time. Viewing your pictures in three months, you will have NO IDEA where you were unless you Identify The Room, and Mark A Starting Point.

If this interests you, please read on. I will explain How To, then I will give you a fabulous example with pictures.

TIP: In the future months, you will be LIMITED to what the Camera saw - ie, what is shown within the edges of the picture frame. Please do not forget this!!! If you've had Camera 101, they usually mention this, but it is a completely alien perspective to the uninitiated.
So you will need to simply:
1.) Identify your location;
2.) Move around the room methodically (and not jump around different locations)
3.) overlap your image areas.

- Discover the date when your drywall is going in. Do not expect your Builder to keep you apprised - you need to follow the progress constantly and ASK THE BUILDER for a date of When drywall is going in.
- Plan YOURSELF - When & Where? IE, What Time of day is sunlight Where in your house? Think of that as you plan your starting point for taking pictures.
- If you do not have the time, and the schedule will bear, ask them to leave you at least one day to take pictures. This is not unreasonable, and it should be arranged.*
- Take supplies - Camera with fresh batteries, room on the chip or film, water, snacks, a notepad / legal pad, tape, and black magic-marker.

- Start wherever you want - top to bottom, or bottom-to-top. Think that this might be SUNLIGHT CONTINGENT; meaning what time of day do you have What type of light Where in your house so you can see? Might make sense to begin in the basement, for example.
- Pick your Starting Room(s). Identify The Room. Since to your Camera's eye, ALL rooms in your house look like a bunch of lumber running in different directions, you WILL NEED to Identify The Room and Mark A Starting Point (Yes, I know you are different, and a SuperHero, but please trust me on this one).
- After your starting room(s) are chosen, take your black marker & notepad (we used 8.5 x 14 pad) and write something that YOU know will Identify the Room, and what you are photographing. EXAMPLE: write "Basement Storage Area and Exersize Room - start at Outside Door, work Clockwise".
- Take a picture of your notepad showing this note, which both Identifies The Room, and Marks A Starting Point.
- After you've taken a picture of your Notepad, which Identifies the room that you are in & the direction in which you will be working, begin taking pictures.
- Back far enough away from the wall that you capture the wall - floor to ceiling - in one picture. You may want to turn the camera so it takes "vertical" picture. In above example of moving clockwise, as you take the picture, note what is on the Righthand side of the picture.
- The 2nd picture that you take, make sure your Identifying mark is now on the left-hand side of the picture. Take your 2nd picture, and note what is again on the right-hand side of your picture.
- Set the camera where your 2nd pic right-hand mark is now on the lefthand side, and take your Third picture.
- Repeat until the room or area has been Documented.

NOTE: For walls where not much is going on, you might want to maintain this distance. Where walls have a lot going on - electric + hvac + plumbing + outlets & switches, you might want to FIRST DO THE OVERALL, then NEXT DO A CLOSEUP for that area.

- Move into your next area, and again write on your Notepad for example "Basement Guest Bathroom, begin on tub wall & move counter-clockwise".

Now, if you're thinking "You're KIDDING - what a pain!! This is a LOT OF TROUBLE!". Then please at least skim the below Success Story, and then re-consider: Which is really more trouble?? I spend 4 hours or one single day taking pictures of my walls? or my entire Family is delayed for one to three MONTHS while the builder has to rip out ALL THE DRYWALL in these areas to find the problem because one of his subs made a mistake?? Rental extensions & work vacation changes & storage extensions & school delays & extra expense & interest rate changes & lost-interest-rate-locks & Holiday intrusions & hospital expenses when you get your ulcer or totally stroke-out, & etc., etc., etc.

A Tale of Validation for Preparation (also called "The Builder Owes You a Big One")

If you read the above, we did this. We documented. I have an older, lower MPx camera, the house was dark, it was 3 weeks after my dearest sweet kitty Fresca had to be let go to her ancestors, two weeks since I'd been sent on a cross-country business trip, and the day after getting back into town from burying my step-father - but we did it anyway. Storms had knocked out the Oven in our rental, and the Wed before the Funeral our clothes dryer quit.
We took pictures anyway.

The Superintendent this week admitted that he thought we were crazy taking so many pictures.

The Tale:
Wednesday of this week, my phone rang. It was DH (Dear Husband) who says "how busy are you?". Well I was at work, and had been up since 2:30am to get ready for work, then drive the 45 minutes out to the construction site to set up 5 hoses, 5 timers & 5 sprinklers, then begin setting timers on the water sprinklers by 4am since they installed Sod the day before - before driving the hour into work & only being 30 minutes late**.

me: "What's wrong now??" (experienced, can you tell??)

DH: "The Plumber was testing the water upstairs, and found out that the hot faucets give cold, and the cold faucets give hot - only upstairs. We need to go through the pictures, and send the Superintendent any picture which shows any plumbing pipes or junctions that might lead to the upstairs."

Well, I know that we took almost 400 pictures, which I diligently backed-up onto an external drive (which I keep with me). I was half crazed from 60 minutes' sleep, so sure! Why not?
I went through the pictures & pulled out 50 or so, zipped them in to 6 different files labeled by room grouping, and sent them via email to the Superintendent. The plumber went over to the Super's house, and they reviewed the pictures. In 45 minutes, BECAUSE WE HAD PICTURES OF EVERYTHING, they found the problem, and had planned an easy solution.

If we had not had pictures of the walls & infrastructure, they would have had to rip out drywall until they found the problem. For us, potentially (in order):
- Basement - ALL the HVAC run in the unfinished ceiling, because plumbing is behind it;
- Basement - ALL the drywall in the "boxed in utility corridor" section where they boxed in the HVAC & plumb & wiring - adjacent to stairs, in the Game Room, along the length of the Bathroom - over tub & over toilet, the ceiling & walls of 2 Closets;
- Main Floor - ALL the shelving in the back of the food pantry, maybe the Butler's Pantry too, then drywall & part of the ceiling along that back wall;
- Main Floor - ALL the drywall in the mudroom "owners closet" and bench area, and part of the ceiling;
- Main Floor - ALL the drywall on two walls of the laundry room;
Then if they still had not found it, Laundry ceiling, garage walls, then on upstairs, Cabinetry & Walls, until they found it.

Doesn't that sound like fun?????? Sounds like a minimum six week delay to me, and THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of dollars out of builder's pocket, and thousands out of mine because I now loose my mortgage lock, storage extension, mover's changed, longer interest on a construction loan, more time in a tiny apartment, and by the time we moved it would be Holidays. In addition to the fact that EVERYTHING that would have to be re-done: re-ordered, re-installed, re-nailed, re-trimmed, re-painted, etc., etc., etc.

An Example of Pictures:

This is an example some of the pictures we took just to show you that "it doesn't have to be pretty, but it has to be done". This one is actually in that basement boxed-in, overhead "utility corridor" where they would have to have ripped out:

Just a random example of a wall in the kitchen - but an example we took which shows a LOT if you look - propane lines, electrical lines, ceiling can, plug outlets, direct wire for VaH & RangeTop, etc. - all in relation to the window:

This is the area of the wall where they planned the swap of hot-to-cold:

This is how we documented this AFTER the fix, so when they seal up the wall, and if we need to know in 5 years where this is, again - we have it documented:




*Under Plan The Event, just to give you an idea, it took us the better part of a 2-day weekend to photo 4350 sq.ft. on three levels. But then we are OCD & pretty slow moving & particular. Might not take you that long.

**Yes this does seem a little un-coordinated, but that was not my plan. I knew when the yard was going in, and took a day of vacation. When i got there, the builder STILL had not put water to the exterior hose-bibbs - even though I emailed 1 month in advance to do so, again 1 week in advance, AGAIN 3 days in advance, and phoned twice the way they were laying Sod. When I showed up on site, my hose-bibbs were STILL not flowing, and I had my materials & had taken a day of vacation, and when I saw that he was off "playing" on his grading machine on a different lot - I completely lost it. Yes, he left his dozer, and it took them ALL DAY to finish the plumbing to the point that the the bibbs would work. Yes, he was speechless when at the top of my lungs I asked him "then WHY ON EARTH DID YOU ORDER THEM TO LAY SOD IF YOU DON'T HAVE WATER???" Bonehead. Seriously. His response "well, there's water to the tank". I said "YES!! There's WATER IN THE GROUND!!! What GOOD does it do me if I can't get access to it????" That shut him up.
It was a fun day!! (NOT. to me this is abysmally sad) My throat is still sore.......


clipped on: 08.14.2012 at 09:32 am    last updated on: 08.14.2012 at 09:32 am

RE: Interior shower plumbing located on an outside wall (Follow-Up #20)

posted by: macv on 11.13.2009 at 04:59 pm in Building a Home Forum

The building code for 1 & 2 family dwellings is mostly prescriptive which means it actually sets minimum and maximum values and sizes structural members for a given location in the house. This is not intended to be used as a design guide but to place limits on what you might design yourself.

Using the code as a design guide can result in deficiencies but that is not the fault of the code writers. The joist size tables do not consider long span bounce. The wall systems described are the ones most commonly used but the code does not intend to forbid the use of others. The waterproofing requirements are not extensive or adequate although the addition of the requirement to install materials according to the manufacturer's instructions was intended to fill that gap. Concrete foundations and slabs should be designed to ACI 332 since the IRC does not consider many common detailing problems.

Placing pipes in an outside wall is a design problem that may be addressed by some codes but there is no reason to prohibit that condition. If there were to be a restriction it would have to be based on a map or list of locations similar to the requirements for wall vapor retarders.

You can base your decision about the location of pipes on anecdotal information and other people's opinions or you can design the wall to avoid freezing of the pipe. If you choose the latter, you can use the formula normally used to locate the dew point in a wall in order to determine where the temperature would be 32 degrees or lower.

Ignoring air infiltration for a moment, a water supply pipe 1 1/2" deep in a 2x4 stud wall and insulated with 3 1/2" of fiberglass insulation would probably freeze at about -10 degrees F. Ironically, removing 1 1/2" of the insulation on the warm side would lower the outside temperature needed to freeze the pipe to about -50 degrees but for fiberglass insulation air-infiltrations makes that prediction unreliable.

So the design solution is to air seal the stud cavity and place R-10 or greater insulation on the cold side of the pipe. This is best done with spray foam (Icynene, etc.) and if the studs are 2x6's, the R value would be as much as R-14 which would put the temperature of the pipe at about 55 degrees when the outside air temperature is -30 degrees F. At that outside temperature the house temperature would need to drop below 45 degrees for the pipe to freeze. This design is roughly equivalent to a double 2x4 stud wall with no insulation in the interior wall and 3 1/2" foam or dense-pack cellulose insulation in the outer wall.

The way it was done in my house back in 1903, was to put a "double wall" of wood lath and rough plaster at the middle of the full 2x4 stud cavity throughout the house and at the shower pipe the space behind the pipe was filled with vermiculite plaster. This pipe has never frozen but because of the risk of air infiltration I don't count on protection below -20 degrees.

Remember that these calculations assume that the interior temperature is 68 degrees or higher, so if you set the thermostat at 55 degrees or the bathroom is under heated or you close the shower door you should adjust the calculation.


clipped on: 08.11.2012 at 01:26 am    last updated on: 08.11.2012 at 01:28 am

Online bathroom hardware stores

posted by: nanabella on 08.03.2012 at 09:49 pm in Bathrooms Forum

Someone posted an online store a while back called Are there any others? Thanks.


clipped on: 08.07.2012 at 11:00 pm    last updated on: 08.07.2012 at 11:00 pm

RE: Comprehensive budget range hoods thread (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: split767 on 05.28.2011 at 01:17 am in Appliances Forum

We live outside of Vancouver, BC. This company is in Burnaby, we have seen there products and were extremely pleased. We have a mix of Electrolux (36" fridge, 30" wall oven, Gaggenau (36" induction), and a Cavavin Frenchdoor beverage centre. This fan was the only item where we saw true value with a budget hood. Stainless steel baffle filters, 860cfm fan, and halogen lights for only $519.00 Canadian. Quite a few different sales people from different high end shops around Vancouver have mentioned this shop. Our model is in the "professional" series which have the better baffle filters.

Here is a link that might be useful: The model we chose


clipped on: 08.06.2012 at 05:04 pm    last updated on: 08.06.2012 at 05:05 pm

RE: Does a reasonably quiet refrigerator exist? (Follow-Up #41)

posted by: budmen on 03.27.2010 at 11:00 pm in Appliances Forum

>> our fridge won't be in a corner, but we should be able to pretty much do the same thing you did - yes?

You can fill up the entire back side wall with mineral wool and that will definitely help. If you have any exposed sides or if the top won't be covered up, make sure you get the width and height correct so that the wool will be well hidden from view after the fridge is pushed in.

I should mention that the wool has to be left exposed, since covering it up with drywall or another hard material will just allow the sound to bounce back into the kitchen as it did before (this is why we need to absorb the sound, rather than sound proof).

Most of the noise will come out from the bottom where the compressor is. If your fridge has counter top on both sides, or only on one side, you can work things out so that there's room for inserting wool on the enclosed sides or side - this assumes you have not put in the cabinets yet.

The other option is to place the entire fridge inside a cabinet, but there won't be enough room on the sides to insert wool unless you use a cabinet with the required extra width. If there's not enough side room, you can use a thin material, such as felt, to reduce sound from bouncing out through the sides, or perhaps nothing is needed if it's quiet enough. Just remember to leave enough room for proper air flow.

>> also, our porcelain tile hasn't gone down yet either -- hmmm, should we have the flooring people put something else under the whole

Unfortunately I don't know yet what material works best under the fridge. I've thought of using a firm rubber-like material, but another option that should work fine is cork floor tile. I was thinking of doing this part to absorb vibrations from the compressor rather than the sound itself, but if it ends up being quite enough you may not have to place a sound absorbing wool sheet under the fridge.

Make sure the kitchen tile goes a few inches under the fridge in the front and exposed sides (if any), enough so that it appears as if the tile goes all the way back. Gotta keep things looking good!

Whatever you end up doing, please post in here the results!


Sound Proofing Fridge area
clipped on: 08.05.2012 at 10:11 am    last updated on: 08.05.2012 at 10:12 am

RE: Does a reasonably quiet refrigerator exist? (Follow-Up #38)

posted by: budmen on 03.17.2010 at 12:53 pm in Appliances Forum

Some KitchenAid models come with an optional sound reduction package, so be sure to check that out. Even still, I'd take some steps to sound absorb, since it's rather simple and very low cost, especially if you are already going to do some remodeling work.

I plan on doing more a little. My fridge is in a corner, so when I get around to cutting out the drywall and inserting the wool, I'll do it not only on the back wall, but also on the side wall for extra sound absorption.

I also plan on cutting out a few inches of the back part of the tile floor where the back fridge rollers sit and replacing it with a firm rubber mat or similar material of equal thickness (I want the tile and rubber to be at the same height). That way the back rollers will sit on the rubber and absorb vibrations from the compressor when it kicks into high gear. This is another little detail manufacturers ignore, using cheap hard plastic rollers which have no vibration absorption.

Sine I'm remodeling the entire kitchen, I also plan on placing a cabinet on top of the fridge, therefore I should be able to place a sheet of wool under the cabinet (which if done right will be completely hidden from view) to absorb what sound comes up from the fridge.

The remaining exposed side from the counter up to the cabinets will be closed up with a panel. For the panel side, there won't be much of a gap between the fridge and panel (need to allow air flow), so I plan on lining the panel with a thin sheet of felt or similar material to absorb at least some of the sound.

Note you should NOT place anything on the fridge wall directly, since the walls need to conduct heat out, this is why you need to leave a gap which is usually .5" to 1" for air flow.

My other option was to sound proof the fridge itself, but to do that I'd have to modify the fridge compartment where the compressor sits, and that likely would void the warranty. I'd also have to insert a fan in the modified enclosure to cool the compressor by blowing out hot air (the F&P uses a passive heat exchange system, which means the enclosure is not actually enclosed, but full of air vents which allow sound to leak out), or I could install a passive heat sink around the compressor that extends out side of the enclosure - but this is way too complicated for me!


Sound proofing Refrigerator area
clipped on: 08.05.2012 at 10:11 am    last updated on: 08.05.2012 at 10:11 am

RE: Does a reasonably quiet refrigerator exist? (Follow-Up #36)

posted by: budmen on 03.16.2010 at 06:33 pm in Appliances Forum

I have a simple and very low cost solution to the almost constant noise that these new energy efficient refrigerators make.

I bought a Fisher & Paykel, which runs at least 50% of the time. The constant running of the compressor counter intuitively helps with the energy efficiency due to the use of a low power motor that needs to work much longer than a high powered motor, but uses much less energy in the long run.

The almost constant running of the compressor was driving me insane, so I did a lot of research and found out that certain things make the noise worse, such as tile floors (that I have), if the fridge is placed inside a fridge cabinet or not (mine is pushed back against a bare wall in a corner). I then looked into possible sound proofing and sound absorption solutions. In the end, I settled on sound absorption rather than attempting to sound proof (I can explain why if anyone is interested - this post is too long already).

Instead of throwing out the noisy fridge and forking out $5,000+ on a Liebherr, I spent only $40 on a roll of mineral wool sound absorbing material. In my case I bought a product called "Roxul Safe n Sound" at Home Depot. I'm sure you can buy a similar product at most building supply stores. The important thing is that you buy mineral wool (aka rock wool), because not only is it fire proof which is very important, but it's also an excellent sound absorber (not to be confused with a "sound proofer" which serves a different function, or with thermal insulation such as fiberglass insulation which is not designed to be an effective sound absorber).

I placed two side by side 3 inch thick sheets along the back side wall from the floor up (you should cut out the drywall and press it in between the exposed studs - but before doing all that work, test it out first by stapling the sheets directly to the drywall).

The sheets covered most of the height and all the width of the back side of the fridge. This part absorbed at least 50% of the noise that was bouncing off the back side drywall and tile floor into the kitchen.

I also cut a thin 1/2 inch (or so) sheet of mineral wool that fit snugly underneath the fridge (I just raised the fridge up a little and slid it under, then lowered the fridge). That part reduced virtually all the remaining noise.

Note: You MUST allow for proper air circulation around the refrigerator - see your manual for installation and clearance instructions.

The only sound I now hear is the internal fan when it circulates the cold air (no big deal). For comparison, the compressor noise used to drown out the fan noise almost completely. I can only hear the compressor when it kicks into high gear (the F&P has two speeds, the high speed is infrequent), and even that is not much noise anymore.

What a relief!!!

I'm still very much upset that manufacturers pay so little attention to sound issues with their refrigerators. There is no reason why a quiet fridge cannot be inexpensively made that is also energy efficient. The F&P for example has NO sound proofing at all - ZERO!, yet they make the claim that their refrigerators are very quiet.

BTW, I found out that some refrigerators come with an optional sound reduction "kit" or "package" (this means spending more $$$ of course, but may be worth it).


clipped on: 08.05.2012 at 09:59 am    last updated on: 08.05.2012 at 10:00 am

RE: tankless H2O heater + H2O efficient dishwasher = problems (Follow-Up #15)

posted by: jakethewonderdog on 09.30.2011 at 09:31 am in Plumbing Forum

Echo what Dadoes said:

1. When considering tankless, be sure to check the minimum flow on the heater you are considering. There is usually a turn-on and a maintain flow. Lower is better. Once you get much above 0.5 gpm to activate you start running into problems with low-flow fixtures.

2. Insulate your hot water lines.

3. Be aware of potential issues with high-efficiency appliances (washers, dish washers). They need to be able to heat the water.

4. Tankless heaters can be safely set at 105F since they don't store the water. In fact, many of them have a bathroom control to allow you to set the water temp for your bath/shower.


clipped on: 08.03.2012 at 03:31 pm    last updated on: 08.03.2012 at 03:31 pm

Where to put the TV? What about other appliances?

posted by: pbx2 on 07.23.2012 at 12:21 pm in Kitchens Forum

Would like to see if the community can suggest where we can place the TV in the kitchen?

Please feel free to suggest moving things around since we still have time to make decisions.

The builder switched the range & frig+pantry to current position on the right - -previously it was on the left because he said that we can look through one of the archway & see range from the living room.

Below the island seats is the dining room.

Appliances will be:
30" range
Speed oven in wall


clipped on: 07.23.2012 at 03:42 pm    last updated on: 07.23.2012 at 03:42 pm

RE: saving money building a new home (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: Xclusive on 07.18.2012 at 02:59 am in Building a Home Forum

Well being able to pre-wire is something that you would have to discuss upfront and alot of builders dont allow it. I can say that you have the most leverage before you sign the contract. Their excuse is usually they won't let you do it for insurance purposes but I think its so they can make more profit from overly inflated prices. My builder would not sign off on me wiring my house but I spoke with my GC who basically informed me of the two weekends the house would be open after plumbing and electricial inspections and he left it at that. I along with a friend was able to wire my house in the two weekends for most of what I wanted(12 zones whole house audio, 2 rooms 5.1 surround sound,orange conduit for hanging flat panels and runing wires thru walls, extra wire keypads for the alarm and front/back door cameras. There is never enough time as I wasn't able to finish wiring for automated blinds or security cameras but that will have to be done after I get in as I made sure I had attic access where I needed it. My DW won't appreciate the few holes here and there for me to complete my wiring but its so much easier to wire before the drywall goes up. Once its finished she won't even notice. :) I did pay the builder for pre-wire as the price was good and I felt not worth my time to wire for.

I went back and looked at what my builder charged for pre-wire and YES you are correct it is rather pricey. My builder prices for pre-wire for audio/video are listed below:

$340 per room for whole house (which included speakers wires to ceiling and cat5e for control)

$90 per run for speaker wires (5+1 surround sound = $540 per room)

$440 alarm pre-wire which included door contacts, siren, motion detector and two keypdads.

I was spent roughly a $1,000 in wire and materials so I was able to save alot of money running my own wire versus the approx $6,500 what the builder would have charged. As you stated earlier it all boils down to wants and needs to be honest my audio/visual request were all wants. I am lucky I was able to pre-wire but if I had not been allowed to do so I would have scaled my wants down just a bit because alot of this if not done before drywall can be even more expensive and more of a mess. If whole house audio is something you want, why not select 2 or 3 zones? This way the infrastructure is in place and you can add electronics when needed.

Now as far as taking builder choices now and upgrading later I think it again all just depends on what it is. For example in the kitchen and bathrooms since I am going to do my own floor tile, we opted for included vinyl so demo wont be a problem at all. On the other hand lets say if you were going with a cheaper tile and wanting to add a more expensive tile later, that I would pass on and just pay the premium if you really wanted because the demo in that wouldn't be worth it to me personally.

Stainless steel appliances to me is an upgrade and not necessarily a deal breaker for me. We took the included black appliances and will upgrade later as I find close-outs and discontinued models. I want mid to high end appliances which the builder charges an fortune for and I don't mind waiting for a deal.

As far as finishes are concerned I think they all are in, it just depends on what you like and will be happy with. I personally like ORB and thats the reason I went with, not because it was the "in thing" :)

Hope that helps, just my .02 cents FWIW

As far as the finishes I think they are all in, just depends on what you like.

Here is a link that might be useful: Our home sell/build blog


clipped on: 07.19.2012 at 09:59 am    last updated on: 07.19.2012 at 09:59 am

10ft Ceilings - Run Cabinets All the Way to Ceiling?

posted by: pbx2 on 07.12.2012 at 09:19 pm in Kitchens Forum

Our new build will have a 10ft kitchen ceiling.
We're closing in on having to make some decisions on cabinet height.

We think the sweet spot these days are 42" cabinets which will leave us @ least 1ft+ to the ceiling we suspect.

We're all new to this so would like to know what is the conventional wisdom for installing cabinets at what height?

Do we run cabinets all the way up to the ceiling?

Would appreciate any feedback!


clipped on: 07.14.2012 at 11:20 pm    last updated on: 07.14.2012 at 11:20 pm

Kitchen finished! White cabs, quartzite, leathered black. Whew!

posted by: babs711 on 07.14.2012 at 12:25 am in Kitchens Forum

We moved into our new build about three weeks ago. While I say the kitchen (and house) are complete, some things are missing that need to be done like counter stools that aren't here yet, a window seat cushion, upholstered chairs at the table that will be ordered, BLADES for the living room ceiling fan that aren't in yet. I've hardly hung a thing on the walls and am working on window treatments now. You get the picture! But we're in! And the months of planning and stewing are over! So here are some pics of the kitchen/dining/living room. I'm sure I'll have updates as I go.

Cabinets: Eudora Frameless
Island countertop: White Macaubus Quartzite
Perimeter countertop: Leathered Absolute Black Granite
Sink: Kohler Riverby Cast Iron
Faucet: Moen Woodmere in Stainless
Hardware on solid doors/drawers: Amerock Highland Ridge in polished nickel
Glass knobs and Bin Pulls in polished nickel: Van Dyke's
Range & Dishwasher: Thermador
Refrigerator: Kitchenaid Pro
Refrigerator Drawers: Electrolux
Sharp Microwave Drawer

Close up of the tile. It's hard to get an accurate color since it's so glossy. It's more blue/green than portrayed in pics:

I was standing on a chair when I took this. I feel like it makes the dining table look like toy furniture! Ha!

Behold...the unfinished bar and the fan with no blades. We live in the deep judging the fan! Behind those closed doors lies my DH's very unfinished man cave.

And you'd know that the day after I took these, my new sofa cushion inserts came in. It's all fluffy and new looking again. Oh well!

The Pantry is actually the same color as the entry you see right past the range wall in the kitchen (BM Gray Wisp). But I didn't use a flash so it looks funky here:


clipped on: 07.14.2012 at 11:10 pm    last updated on: 07.14.2012 at 11:11 pm

Stop the mold from growing on my ceiling and walls!

posted by: eks6426 on 01.25.2012 at 10:27 pm in Bathrooms Forum

I am gathering information and ideas to start remodeling my only full bath. But the most important part of this project is going to be solve the ventilation problem. My bath is about 5' wide x 8' long. There is a tub alcove that is recessed off the 8' wall so that point of the bathroom is about 8' wide. There is a window on one of the 5' walls and the entry door on the other 5' wall.

I currently have one of those lights with fans centered in the room.

We have such a moisture problem that the walls and ceilings grow mold. The wood window frames also grow mold. We run the fan for a long time maybe 30 minutes after each shower. There are 3 people who shower one right after another each morning. The ceiling above the tub has puckered and peeled off from moisture. It always has some mold even though we try to keep up with bleaching it.

The fan connects in the attic to flexible duct work that runs mostly horizontal to a vent in the side peak of the house.

It is very important to me that we fix the moisture problem but I also don't want a fan that is super loud.

Since the moisture problem is our most serious issue, my plan is to fix the fan/venting problem first...before we actually gut the bathroom.

So, I am looking for ideas on what we need to do/buy etc. Help hugely appreciated. Thanks.


clipped on: 06.21.2012 at 09:26 am    last updated on: 06.21.2012 at 09:27 am

alternate carrara-look tile?

posted by: cottonpenny on 06.09.2012 at 01:03 pm in Bathrooms Forum

AO catarina and Daltile navelli star are not available right now. Poop.

My flooring store gave me a sample of some off brand. The pattern is ok but the pattern doesn't go all the way to the edges of the tile and I don't like that.

Any other good alternatives??


clipped on: 06.21.2012 at 12:45 am    last updated on: 06.21.2012 at 12:45 am

RE: alternate carrara-look tile? (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: twn85 on 06.11.2012 at 01:41 pm in Bathrooms Forum

Iris US Marmi Statuario.. available in honed and polished. Porcelanosa also has a few.


clipped on: 06.11.2012 at 05:03 pm    last updated on: 06.11.2012 at 05:03 pm

RE: Feeling ganged up on (Follow-Up #11)

posted by: Renovator8 on 06.02.2012 at 10:09 am in Building a Home Forum

I haven't read all of this thread but I wanted to repeat what I have said many time on this forum: an Allowance section in a contract should contain the right of the Owner to delete it and supply the material for the contractor to install. Also Allowances should only be for the material and installation should be included in the base contract price.

Not following these Allowance precautions leaves an Owner at the mercy of typical contractor "sweetheart" deals with his favorite suppliers and subs. In this situation GC discounts and even kickbacks are not unusual. It's difficult to say if this additional cost to the Owner is fair or not since the GC is likely to have figured the additional profit in his original bid.

I can't tell you more without seeing the actual wording in your contract regarding Allowances.

Since carpet is the last item to be installed and the pricing at stores is so competitive, most of my clients ask to exclude it from the contractor's work altogether.


clipped on: 06.05.2012 at 11:52 am    last updated on: 06.05.2012 at 11:52 am

RE: Feeling ganged up on (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: cottonpenny on 06.01.2012 at 08:09 am in Building a Home Forum

Thanks guys! After sleeping on it, I feel a lot better.

I can't really figure out why they aren't willing to deal on the carpet. It would be very simple for me to walk down the street to Lowes to get the carpet. I would be willing to pay a little extra to keep a local shop in business and to know that the installation would be done right. But I'm willing to put up with some hassle to save about $4k. I don't understand why they would rather lose a sale and make nothing than deal a little - a whole house of flooring as got to be a big order for them!

Bev - our contract is not specific about if we need to use his suppliers. It will clearly make our lives easier if we do, though, so I have tried to whenever possible. Up to this point, our builder has been pretty easy to work with and seems to be doing a nice job on the house.

The other suppliers' prices have been reasonable - and believe me, I have comparison shopped! Appliances were the same or a little cheaper than AJMadison. Plumbing was a little higher than Faucetdirect, but not a ton for most items. I offered them to price match for some big ticket items which they couldn't (?wouldn't), so I ordered them online and saved myself like $600. When I felt like the cabinet guy had yanked up the prices, I received plausible explanations on what happened and we were able to work together to get the prices back where they should be.


clipped on: 06.05.2012 at 11:24 am    last updated on: 06.05.2012 at 11:24 am

Receiving invoices/receipts

posted by: lindsay221 on 06.04.2012 at 09:23 am in Building a Home Forum

My husband and I are just starting our new build. We have a fixed price contract. There are already several areas where we know we're going to go over budget (i.e. upgrading fireplaces, etc.). My question is, should we be receiving some type of invoice/receipt for these overages? As of now, he's just giving us a number (i.e. "to upgrade to the fireplace you want, it's an extra $3000"). I guess we're just kind of confused about how this should work. This process is starting to make us feel like we're at the mercy of our builder. We think he's a trustworthy guy, but don't want to be taken for a ride. Can someone explain to us exactly how this process should work. What type of invoices should we be receiving, if any?


clipped on: 06.05.2012 at 08:21 am    last updated on: 06.05.2012 at 08:21 am

Vanity dealers and prices?

posted by: nancita on 05.08.2012 at 11:04 am in Bathrooms Forum

Hi all,
Well, our bathrooms ar getting out of control. With all the additional goodies, we are getting very close to pricing ourselves out of our market. We need two vanities, a 48" and a 30" plus an 18"" deep linen closet. Looking around town and Home Depot, as well as online, we are looking for something that isn't totally cheesy. We thought the Master Bath collection at Home Depot wasn't too bad.
What is the lead time for vanities typically and price-wise, what should we expect. We'd love to get out of it for $2000+ and the tops. Are we dreaming?
Thank you for any input.


clipped on: 06.04.2012 at 04:35 pm    last updated on: 06.04.2012 at 04:35 pm

First time build, where to start?

posted by: terri0826 on 01.28.2012 at 01:56 pm in Building a Home Forum

Like so many here we are possibly about to start our first time build. I've read lots of posts here and looked at tons of your plans. It was great fun until we found the parcel of land we liked, then it became reality! Stress!!!

First a little background. We are empty-nesters in our early fifties. The land we've found is 10 acres with river frontage in New Mexico. We will put a shop there for his toys and the house will need a largish sewing room for my sewing machine and long arm quilting machine (it's a 14' long frame).

I've started a list (and hopefully DH will start his this weekend!) with ideas that I want in a house. From the basic 3 bedroom / 3 bath and the basics I want in those to a little more detail like single floor, flooring, counter tops, etc. I'm thinking if we have a pretty good idea what we want and a basic (even if crude) floor plan to take to an architect it will save time and money in the end.

Is there anything we should be thinking of while we scout around for the architect and builder? Our son has homebuilder 2012 software, does anyone have any experience with this software program?

Or is all of this just my way to deal with the stress and we should just wait until we decide on an architect lol? Thanks for any input as my head is spinning :)


clipped on: 05.16.2012 at 12:05 pm    last updated on: 05.16.2012 at 12:05 pm

Spray Foam - Worth it?

posted by: Improv241 on 04.14.2011 at 10:31 am in Building a Home Forum

I've been asked by several members of my family if I am going to consider spray foam for insulation throughout the house.

What are the pros/cons of going this route?

I have no idea about the expense of doing this, but I'm curious about its value versus regular fiberglass rolled insulation.


clipped on: 05.08.2012 at 02:19 pm    last updated on: 05.08.2012 at 02:19 pm

Small things that get forgotten

posted by: Laura12 on 04.11.2012 at 06:01 pm in Building a Home Forum

I keep hearing that most people find that there are small things that they didn�t think about until after they finished construction that they wish they would have added into their build, and I was curious if all of you would like to help me to compile a list for all of us to consider during planning!

So far I have
- Plugs in kitchen pantry for charging, or for items that may end up living there
- Full size broom cupboard in pantry or laundry room to hide all the cleaning items away from sight.
- Solar tubes in areas that don�t get natural sunlight
- Prewire security system
- Run wire and prepare roof for future solar
- Central Vac with vac pans

Any others to add?


clipped on: 04.18.2012 at 04:36 pm    last updated on: 04.18.2012 at 04:36 pm

Appraisals before and after --- issues already...

posted by: slowdowntohurryup on 04.05.2012 at 12:09 am in Building a Home Forum

So finally have 'bout everything in line to start breaking ground and the construction appraisal came back so low we are rethinking the situation (do they ever come back high...:-)...granted we are in a depressed area of the country where a high end house costs ~$100sq/ft to build (vs $150 or more that is seen in other parts of the country)....but the cost to build came back as $370k and the appraisal came in at $290k - (this excludes any land).(3350 ht/cooled) and quite a bit of porches and large garage.

Has anyone else experienced this much of a discrepancy between cost to build on appraisal and appraisal value?

Our true cost to build is somewhere in between - floating around that $100sq/ft and the appraisal is ~$85sq/ft. I havent seen it yet - going off what i've been told.

My concern is even if we/the bank figure out a way to get the construction loan to go through - the appraisal on the back end will come out the same way ...unless someone is able to fudge on the numbers...(we have a different bank we are going through on the permanent side)

would appreciate any input...


clipped on: 04.05.2012 at 11:11 pm    last updated on: 04.05.2012 at 11:11 pm